Somerset Children's Services get £6m for extra staff

Somerset County Council
Image caption Somerset County Council is spending an extra £6m on recruiting 100 more social workers

An extra £6m is being invested in Children's Services in Somerset to recruit 100 new social workers.

In March, Ofsted rated the service as inadequate and the county council was told to work with Essex County Council to improve its standards.

Council leader, John Osman, said the extra staff would help reduce social worker caseloads from "25 plus" to 14.

The ring-fenced money will come from council reserves and savings made by reducing the number of agency staff.

'Individual children'

Mr Osman added: "If you have more staff, you can spend more time on individual children so that means the quality of the work, the quality of assessments and the liaising with the partners all get better."

The council also intends to cut down on the number of agency or interim staff, as they are more expensive to hire than full-time staff.

The aim is to double the current number of permanent social workers to 200 by 2018.

"When they are good we want to keep them but make them full-time but where they want to carry on being interims, in the future we are going to say goodbye [to them]," added Mr Osman.

A new cross-party scrutiny committee solely for Children's Services is also being set up to improve standards.

The Conservative-run council has also created a new cabinet position for corporate improvement, which will focus initially on Children's Services and Adult Social Care.

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