Attracting, keeping and developing the most talented staff is at the heart of a five-year workforce strategy for Manchester City Council’s children’s services department that was approved today.
There is extensive evidence that the quality of social work practice has improved considerably in recent years, with Ofsted’s 2017 inspection and follow-on focused visits - the most recent published in January this year - recognising the commitment of staff and a shared determination to improve. Other independent external assessments, such as last year’s Local Government Association peer review and challenge focused on how issues such as child sexual exploitation are approached, were also positive.
But challenges remain and it is essential to have a stable, experienced, confident and talented social work staff to maintain and build on these improvements and get the best results for vulnerable children and young people in Manchester.
The new strategy includes specific investments to attract, keep and develop social work staff.
Specific new planned measures are to introduce a £2,000 retention payment for level one social workers after they have been at Manchester City Council for two years.
In addition to the many opportunities to develop professionally to introduce a £5,000 a year market rate supplement for Advanced Social Workers, to ensure the Council remains competitive with other local authorities on all fronts including salary, and continue a similar £5,487 market rate supplement for team managers.
Manchester City Council already takes an innovative approach to recruitment and career development.
This includes offering Social Work Apprenticeships to enable existing staff to retrain as social workers and being a partner in the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy, which is helping to attract the most talented students. There are also development opportunities for existing social workers and managers to enable them to become the leaders of the future.
The proposals are part of a broader drive to support staff wellbeing and development. Other elements of the strategy include consolidating an area-based approach to children’s services, ensuring they are better integrated with other local services, and an emphasis on early intervention to support families to address problems before they escalate.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “This strategy is all about attracting and retaining the best staff to do a hugely important job.
“Whenever I speak to staff about the work they do I am struck by their passion and commitment. It’s their shared ambition to do the best for our young people which is driving improvements in Manchester. It’s important that those staff - especially those in some of the toughest frontline roles - know their skills are valued.
“Keeping experienced and talented social workers in Manchester will provide the best support and advocacy for the city’s most vulnerable children.
“The fact that despite a decade of austerity and continuing financial pressures we are investing in children’s services, not making savings, underlines our commitment to our staff and our city’s children.”
The strategy was discussed at the Council’s Executive at its meeting today.