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Leeds council chiefs hit back at social work staffing figures

Leeds Civic Hall.
Leeds Civic Hall.
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Council chiefs have hit back at figures which appear to show the majority of its social work team do not have frontline roles with vulnerable families and children in the city.

Figures from the Department for Education showed that out of 618 full-time staff members, only 216 - 35 per cent - were actual case holders, taking direct responsibility for vulnerable people in Leeds.

The remaining 65 per cent were said to be managers or newly-qualified social workers who are not given case holder duties. The figures led to claims that the service had more managers than case-holders, but Steven Walker, director of children and families for Leeds City Council said “most” of the social workers in Leeds are in fact in frontline roles.

He added: “Others work to support foster and kinship carers or provide therapeutic support to children looked after.” He pointed out the figures included One Adoption West Yorkshire social workers, who cover the region’s five authorities but are still employed by Leeds City Council. Citing a recent Ofsted inspection which praised the service, he added: “In Leeds we have focused on providing an environment where front line practitioners can deliver great outcomes for children, young people and families.”

However, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) argued change is needed to keep experienced social workers in frontline roles.

Maris Stratulis, BASW England manager, said: “The more senior people become in local authorities, usually the management route, the less likely they are to be involved in direct practice which we consider to be a loss.”

The figures - from September 2016-2017 - showed Leeds social workers dealt with an average of 16.7 cases at any one time - below the England average of 17.8.