Berkshire

Slough council to keep six social worker posts vacant

A council's decision to keep six social worker positions vacant has been criticised.

Slough Borough Council will not renew the contracts of agency staff after reducing its case workload but said the roles may return in the future.

The move comes after the number of children on the town's at risk register doubled since 2007 to 118.

The council said some responsibilities have been taken away from social workers to allow for the reduction.

'Baby P situation'

Independent councillor David MacIsaac said the decision could put more pressure on existing social workers.

"My fear is that we will have a Baby P situation because social workers cannot cope," he said.

"Then we will try and get social workers back but Slough will have a reputation and won't be able to recruit."

Children on the register are believed to be at risk of being seriously neglected or physically or sexually abused by their parents.

The authority said the Baby P case in 2008 had caused a rise in at risk children being reported.

It said cases increased then the vacant positions would be filled.

Councillor Natasa Pantelic, member for children's services at the Labour-controlled council, said: "We've created this new system and it seems to be working.

"It does not allow social workers to deal with the initial contact and referral process and we will monitor the situation as we move forward.

"It seems to be working at the moment without the six agency staff."

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