Northamptonshire social workers 'demotivated' by new colleagues on higher wages

Angel Square
Angel Square

A social worker in Northamptonshire's children's services department has said the hiring policy disadvantages long-serving staff.

The council has been recruiting social workers from across the country and abroad since May.

But long-standing social workers have learned the newcomers have been hired on higher salaries. With around 15 of them coming to the county from South Africa, it is understood this is in part so they satisfy immigration rules.

But all newcomers regardless of origin are also being offered a golden hello of £8,000 towards relocation costs.

A social worker, who asked not to be named, said: "I fully accept that the council has to attract talented workers.

"But having to show someone the ropes knowing they have the same job title as you but earn more is really demotivating.

"You have to look after your experienced staff but we get no recognition. This does nothing to persuade us to stay."

The social worker said the newcomers earned up to £7,000 more than colleagues. They are all employed on direct, permanent contracts.

Angel Square has admitted it has struggled to retain social workers in children's services.

And an Ofsted report noted the high turnover of staff, which has led to a lack of consistency for children. Of the 172 social workers hired by the county council in 2017, 82 have left.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Like local authorities across the country, there are challenges in recruiting and retaining social workers.

“The county council operates a rolling recruitment programme in the UK for experienced social workers as well as growing our own newly qualified social workers through the Social Work Academy.

“The social workers that have been recruited from overseas are all experienced social workers in safeguarding. This initiative is part of our strategy to reduce reliance on agency workers.

“A relocation allowance, up to £8k, is available to all social workers who meet the criteria and have to move to base themselves in or near Northampton and the same is available to overseas workers.”