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Supporting our workforce

The Government recently responded to its consultation on the use of agency social workers. As a sector, we gave a clear message about improving the experiences of children and families and driving down costs. Whilst ADCS broadly welcomed what was set out in the government’s response, we were disappointed that not all of the suggested changes are to be taken forward. Our asks of government to better regulate the market are never going to be a panacea for all our workforce woes.… but it feels like a step in the right direction, certainly in terms of addressing some of the financial implications of our reliance on this market.

Whilst we wait for the new reforms to come into play, the onus will continue to be on us as leaders to do what we can to mitigate the issues we grapple with on a daily basis within a complex environment. In the North West we have a long history of collaboration and workforce is a strong focus in our new jointly agreed DfE NW Improvement Plan. Our previous successes over many years in the spread and scale of innovation certainly suggests that among other workforce initiatives the current Greater Manchester Pledge could now go further.

In my local authority we have felt the impact of a reliance on a temporary workforce over the past three years. Having doubled the number of social workers in our establishment as part of our improvements (and not having any knitting skills) we slowly but steadily have managed to exit our use of managed teams and reduce our overall reliance on agency staff. We as many before us have doggedly focused on the key ingredients of making Wigan a great place to practice good social work. Through authentic leadership and recognition, promoting respect for those we work with, and giving space for creativity and individuality, we have built a now stable and permanent workforce. Letting staff know that the work they are doing matters and showing this by tying it to the vision and outcomes for our children and young people has been critical. This, along with really looking after our workforce with a strong corporate offer encompassing compassionate wellbeing and kindness, as well as practical and financial help are why our staff tell us they are coming to and staying in Wigan. Moving forward, as we consider both the opportunities and risks of AI in my Authority, as a sector we need to be at the forefront of thinking how it could benefit our workforce.

As ever, our staff tell us that having a good, supportive working environment that allows good social work to flourish generally wins over and above a higher hourly rate. This is not to say that the current context is not incredibly difficult and of course the cost of living impacts heavily, but my view is that if we keep our eye on the prize of delivering consistently good social work practice based on strong and established relationships with our children, young people and their families and carers, then creating the best environments in which to work becomes absolutely necessary.


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WORKFORCE 139 SOCIAL WORKERS 74 NORTH WEST 28

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