Golden Hello for Social Workers

A “GOLDEN hello” of £3,000 is on offer to social workers who are prepared to come to work in Peterborough. The bold move is prompted by the shortage of people qualifying as social workers and the city’s 18 vacant positions, which offer a starting salary of £20,895. The move mirrors that of other local authorities as councils across the country battle to attract social workers to their area.

Maureen Phillips, assistant director of specialist services at Peterborough City Council, said: “There is a national shortage of social workers and similar to other local authorities, Peterborough City Council needs new recruits to bolster its ranks.

“We have 18 full-time vacancies out of a complement of 69 and are making a concerted effort to fill them as quickly as possible.

“However, the introduction of a ‘golden hello’ of £3,000 is a temporary measure, which has been undertaken while a review of the overall remuneration package is under way.

“As well as offering this financial incentive, we have been visiting universities and job fairs to aid the recruitment drive, and the feedback we have been receiving is very positive.”

The move will also save the city money, as the majority of posts are currently covered by agency staff.

Mrs Phillips added: “It costs twice as much to fill these positions with agency staff as permanent staff. Coupled with that, we are offering people the

opportunity to work in an attractive city with great transport links, a competitive housing market and a vibrant, diverse community.”

Peterborough is by no means the only authority vying for the attention of social workers because of a national shortage.

The west London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham offers a welcome package, including a £1,000 golden hello and a further £2,000 after two years in the post, while Walsall borough council in the West Midlands offers a £1,500 one-off incentive.

A £2,000 golden hello given to newly-qualified social workers at Camden council was scrapped a year ago in favour of offering overall higher salaries, up to £28,536.

Catherine Mathews (49), a former Peterborough social worker, who now lives in Bourne, put the shortage down to the “image problem” suffered by the industry.

“People think that if something goes wrong with a case they have been involved in, they will end up taking the blame.

“There are a lack of social workers and everyone is competing for them and basically fishing from the same pool, which unfortunately is not big enough.

“It is a sign of the times that the city council has to offer these incentives, but social workers are vital.”