Spa days, cheap rent and free Oyster cards: Newham Council’s social worker recruitment plans

The plans are set to go before the council's cabinet tonight Picture: Steve Poston

The plans are set to go before the council's cabinet tonight Picture: Steve Poston - Credit: Archant

Newham Council will discuss implementing “golden hello and handcuff payments” to lure desperately needed new social workers.

The proposals include bribing new employees with spa days, career breaks, cash bonuses and discounted rents.

A report, which due to be heard by the cabinet this evening, notes that despite three years of recruitment drives, one in five Children and Young People Services posts remain filled by non-permanent agency staff.

“Newham is experiencing an exponential rise of referrals to the council’s children and young People Services, highlighting the importance of recruitment and retention of children’s social workers in the context of increased demands on children’s social care at a time of reduced resources,” mayor Rokhsana Fiaz wrote in the Overview and Scrutiny Commission report.

“Despite recruitment efforts at Newham Council over the past three years, workforce stability has not improved to its desired target of 90 per cent permanent staff and currently there are approximately 20pc of posts being filled by agency workers.

“Such high turnover has a negative impact on the quality and timeliness of work with vulnerable children and their families and poses a significant risk to the council.”

Newham has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK. The borough’s social care team is “relatively inexperienced” but workers must deal with “complex cases and demographic diversity unlike most other places”, according to the report.

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Newham will consider twelve recommendations that the Commission hopes will attract and retain experienced staff in Newham.

These include free Oyster travel cards for business use as well as career progression schemes, lump sum retention payments and rewards, such as “paid leave, spa days and career breaks”.

It is also suggested that the borough follow neighbouring Barking and Dagenham’s lead in developing an improved “social worker housing offer”.

If approved, new staff recruited from outside the borough could get help with renting fees or be awarded council assistance with loans toward purchasing a home – including help with deposits, stamp duty and legal fees.

The report added: “Pay levels and reward packages could indicate how much the role of a social worker was valued by an authority and the more social workers felt valued, the more likely they would remain with an employer.”