Councils 'Paying Supplements' to Attract Key Social Workers

Article excerpt

SOME councils are acting as if they were the Manchester City FC of the local government world by paying premium rates to poach key workers, it has been claimed.

Now a Tory councillor is calling on the Assembly Government to insist on a level playing field by banning the practice.

Peter Davies, the Cabinet member for resources at Newport City Council, is particularly concerned by local authorities outbidding each other when employing social workers.

He said: "I think it is unacceptable that what amounts to an artificial market is being created for social workers.

"Some local authorities are paying higher salaries than others, leading to a situation where officers are asking for 'market supplements' to be added to the nationally-negotiated rates of pay when social workers are recruited.

"At a time when money is very tight, and when taxpayers working in the private sector are losing their jobs or having their pay frozen or cut, I find this unedifying.

"This kind of thing is also affecting other council departments like legal services and planning, but in those cases local authorities are sometimes competing for employees with the private sector.

"Social workers are, with very few exceptions, employed by local authorities, and it is ridiculous for councils to be in a bidding war to recruit them.

"I believe the Assembly Government should intervene to stop this happening and protect the interests of taxpayers."

An Assembly Government spokeswoman said: "All local authorities work to national terms of service and are processing local single-status agreements.

"Where market supplements are being paid by local authorities, this is a matter for the Welsh Local Government Association as the employers' organisation rather than the Assembly Government. …