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Social workers to be recruited from London in bid to help struggling Black Country services

Sandwell | News | Published:

A struggling children's service is turning to London to recruit social workers in a bid to help turn around its fortunes.

Sandwell Council's children's department is looking outside the borough to fill its senior positions and is seeking those who have worked in the capital as it tries to improve its services.

After being rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted twice since 2010, those charged with reviving the department believe experience of the problems faced by social workers in London could prove invaluable to Sandwell.

The idea is the brainchild of the director of the service Simon White, who is looking to persuade six senior social workers to take up roles in the borough.

The council is offering up to £45,672 for a team leader, £36,676 for a senior social worker and a maximum £31,160 for a social worker.

Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper said: "There is a current trend of London social workers looking to move away, linked to house prices and the cost of living in the capital.

"We want to attract those senior and experienced social workers to the West Midlands because we believe this area has a lot to offer.

"Here in Sandwell we do very well recruiting good calibre, recently-trained young social workers, however like many other councils we find it more difficult to attract senior social workers and team leaders.

"Birmingham and other Black Country boroughs are also experiencing horrendous difficulties in recruiting and retaining social workers, largely due to difficulties experienced in children's social care nationally."

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A special 'transition team' has been set up to help people to relocate, to give advice about housing and other matters to those moving for the jobs, and a package of up to £6,500 is also being offered to help with moving costs.

Mr White, who was himself director of children's services at Camden Borough Council for seven years, believes the challenges faced by those in London will be very similar as those in Sandwell, which has 45 per cent of children from a minority ethnic background.

Similar steps have already been taken by councils in Norwich and Devon, which have looked to recruit from London where there are the highest proportion of 'outstanding' or 'good' ratings, but it is hoped the urban environment of the Midlands would appeal to someone from London ahead of East Anglia or the south west.

It is also hoped that their experience could rub off on the wider pool of social workers throughout the Black Country and the West Midlands.

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