5th Dec, 2016

Coventry's 'Do it for Daniel' campaign ends - as social work agency bill soars to £5.8m

Les Reid 7th Dec, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

MORE than a quarter of social workers recruited under Coventry’s ‘Do it for Daniel’ campaign have already quit their roles.

It has resulted in an ongoing bill to Coventry city taxpayers for the hiring of expensive agency staff of £3.8million – and the cost is rising.

The campaign – named after the four-year-old Coventry schoolboy murdered by his parents amid agency failings in 2012 – aimed to stabilise child protection in the city by recruiting and retaining more social workers.

But a new Coventry City Council report states the ‘Do it for Daniel’ recruitment campaign has now closed.

It adds: “The campaign generated a huge amount of interest for a range of vacant roles and the national profile of the campaign generated significant interest at job fairs both in Birmingham and Manchester.

“The campaign resulted in a total of 47 appointments being made for a range of roles including experienced social workers.. team managers, senior practitioners and newly qualified social workers.

“However from those 47 appointments there were 13 candidates who withdrew after accepting the roles.

“Work is now underway on a new recruitment campaign and this will be informed by the lessons learnt from the first campaign, targeted recruitment activity, utilising social media and ensuring higher ranking on search engines such as Google.

“This campaign will have a new narrative informed by the overall vision and direction of travel as set out by the new Director of Children’s Services.”

The council pays newly recruited experienced social workers £2,000 and then a further retention payment of £1,000 per year for every year they stay with the local authority and a payment to existing experienced social workers of £1,000 per annum.

The report adds: “As part of our new campaign we will have to review our overall rewards package and ensure it is fit for purpose and competitive within the region.”

Watchdog Ofsted judged the council’s children’s services department to be “inadequate” in 2014. Daniel’s death had led to a serious case review which identified serious failings in the work of the city’s child protection agencies.

Magdalena ?uczak (27), and her partner, Mariusz Kr??o?ek (33), were found guilty of the murder in July 2013. They had starved and beaten Daniel, yet opportunities to intervene were missed by his school, doctors and other agencies.

Among problems identified by Ofsted were the recruitment and retention of experienced social workers as opposed to temporary agency staff.

The council’s Labour leaders allocated an additional £5.6million last year to improve and retain an effective workforce.

Regional work between 14 local authorities in the West Midlands is seeking to cap the agency worker hourly rates for children’s social workers, amid concerns about escalating hourly rates.

There are currently 220 permanently employed social workers in funded posts, and 70 agency staff covering vacancies – about a quarter of the workforce.

Only a third are categorised as experienced social workers.

While the ongoing hiring of expensive agency staff is costing city taxpayers £3.8million, the forecast spend for 2015/16 on agency staff is £5.8 million.

The number of children in Coventry in care and with child protection plans remains high at around 600, although the latter category has come down from over 800 in the last year.

The report is set to be discussed by councillors at the education and children’s services scrutiny board on Thursday.