Friday, April 19, 2024

Thurrock Social Work Vacancy Rate Highest In UK

A SPECIAL report has revealed that Thurrock Council has the highest vacancy rate for social workers in United Kingdom.

According to the report in, of 110 posts in children’s and adults’ services, 42 were vacant as of June 2010, with a vacancy rate of 35% in children’s services and 52% in adults’ services.

Last year, YourThurrock reported that council officers had travelled as far afield as Atlanta, Georgia in order to recruit social workers.

With the new Labour administration announcing that a further ten social workers posts are set to be cut, many have expressed concerns as to whether Thurrock will be able to cope especially with the ever increasing demands following the “Baby P” case.

But at a scrutiny committee meeting last week, Director of Children Services, Jo Olsson detailed how a “re-alignment” of services would ensure that the department would run efficiently and effectively.

In the report, Mrs Olsson detailed that the number of referrals to children care services had risen from 1,328 in 2006/07 to 3,805 in 2008/9. A case of almost ten a day!

The “re-alignment” proposals include reducing the load on staff by referring some cases back to the schools, health services and other points of contacts.

However this would only be done after Management Action Groups (MAGS) had robustly assessed relevant cases.

Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council. Val Morris-Cook has pledged that the ruling administration will police the situation very carefully.

She said: “We are determined to ensure the service to vulnerable people are not compromised. The situation be will under constant and very careful monitoring. We are doing all we can to minimise the effects of any cutbacks

“In May we inherited appalling financial difficulties from the Tories which have made an already difficult situation a great deal worse.”

Concerns regarding the cuts were first flagged up by the Shadow Portfolio Holder for Childrens Services, Sue MacPherson.

She said: “I will be working hard to ensure that the cuts will only be made when the proper system is in place and not the other way round.”

Speaking to a reporter, Open Door (a local charity that works alongside the authority in supporting looked-after children says service suffered after the council imposed a recruitment freeze on social work posts earlier this year.

Kersten Bower, project manager for advocacy services at Open Door, says children had reported their social workers becoming more inaccessible in recent months.

“It can be very frustrating because when you’re a young person and you’ve got a problem, it’s the most important thing in the world, and having to wait a day or a couple of days can seem like an eternity,” she says.

An Ofsted report from an unannounced inspection, published last December, found caseloads were manageable and assessments were being completed on time. However, Bower says the situation in Thurrock had worsened since the government announced in May £1.1bn spending cuts for England’s councils in this financial year.

For a full breakdown of the vacancy rates, go to


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