Blackburn social workers leave ‘safe’ jobs for more money

CARE workers are leaving ‘safe’ local authority jobs to earn more money working for private agencies, bosses have said.

It has been claimed that the unmanageable workload and deteriorating working conditions have led thousands of child and family care workers across England to quit their jobs.

And while nearly two dozen people in such positions have quit their Blackburn jobs with Darwen’s advice over the past year, authority bosses say the main reason is their inability to compete with private agencies.

Councilor Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “One of the difficulties we face is that we compete with private agencies who can offer social workers rates of higher pay, even if they do not provide the same level of pay. the job security and support our social workers tell us they value.

“It showed in the reduction in turnover rates at Blackburn with Darwen. This in turn has a positive impact on the relationships social workers can build with children and young people.

“Most importantly, it should help ensure a more positive experience for our children. I therefore call on the government to address this problem as a matter of urgency. As a start, the government could consider capping the rates compensation agencies can offer so that local authorities have a level playing field”

Data from the local authority’s Department of Education shows that 22 full-time employees left their jobs in the year to September, up from 124 since 2017.

Figures show that 14 of those who left last year had been in their jobs for less than five years and six for less than two years.

Across England, the total number of social workers increased by 2%, to 32,500, in the year to September, but 5,000 social workers responsible for supporting children and families left during this period: the highest number in five years and an increase of 16% over the previous year.

More than two-thirds of them had held their position for less than five years.

Jayne Ivory, Strategic Director for Children and Education at the Council, said: “We continue to invest in our workforce and have seen a significant reduction in turnover over the past four years.

“Social work is a challenging yet rewarding profession, and we are truly proud of the difference our social workers are making in helping and protecting the children of Blackburn with Darwen. Strong multi-agency partnerships with bodies like the NHS and the police exist, with all partners working in the interests of local children and families.

“While the government has invested in fast-track approaches to social work education, much more needs to be done nationally to support, recruit and retain excellent social workers.”

There were more than 6,500 vacancies counted last September nationally – including nine advertised at Blackburn with Darwen, up from 18 in September 2020.

At 15.4%, the national turnover rate was also the highest recorded since 2017, with the rate in Blackburn with Darwen standing at 16.5%, up from 19% recorded the previous year.

There were 26 new employees last year, bringing the number of full-time child and family social workers to 133, up from 115 five years earlier.

The figures are not limited to those who leave the profession completely and may reflect social workers who move between different local authorities or in different areas of social work.

A DfE spokeswoman said there were more social workers in the profession than ever before and said the government was helping local authorities retain and recruit social workers by funding accelerated training and professional support.

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