Swansea’s agency staff cutback in social sector

SWANSEA’S beleaguered child and family services department could phase out agency social workers by the end of the year.

The social services department, which has come under heavy scrutiny in the past two years following criticism by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, has struggled to retain experienced social workers, instead relying on locum staff.

However, a number of newly qualified and experienced social workers have now been employed.

One of the key issues identified by the authority was the difficulty in retaining social workers, which the council said it would address with the introduction of induction courses and continual mentoring.

A spokesman for Swansea Council said: “Social work is an exciting but also challenging profession. In Swansea we believe it is essential that social workers joining us are properly supported to carry out their role.”

Steve Walker, head of child and family services, told the department’s overview and scrutiny board: “We are already reducing the number of agency staff and we’ve tried to look carefully at the balance of staff we have and expand that.

“The critical thing was to maintain the staff we brought in, or we would be quickly back to where we were.”

Measures have now been put in place to create a support system for social workers, which starts with a five-week induction course.

This includes training on: direct working with children; understanding the assessment process and child protection procedures; and understanding the looked-after children system and dealing with practice issues.


Social workers, including new recruits brought in from America, will take up their places in four phases.

Fourteen joined in May, including three from Europe, eight joined in June, including one from Europe, and seven joined in July, including two European social workers. Eleven more will have joined by September and will include around half a dozen practitioners from the USA.