WM ADCS – Protocol for the engagement of Social Work Agency Staff (16/17)


The Directors of Children’s Services came together in late 2014 to address increasing agency spend on social workers and the quality and development of social workers as part of our regional wider workforce development activity.

Increasingly the continuing push with austerity means that greater pressures are being placed on securing maximum value when securing the best outcomes for children, young people and families that access our services.

The regional cap which was introduced in January 2015 has been successful in restraining the rates of pay for agency social workers which had risen by 30% in previous 12 months. The partnership between the Local Authorities themselves and the Local Authorities and the Supply Change have been integral to this success.

As the system moves into its second year it is important that lessons are learned and the longer term objectives come more into focus.

The regional approach and agreement therefore will be continued in the financial year 2016/17.

1. Regional Pay Threshold/Cap

As a region it is acknowledged that there will always be a need to have access to experienced social work staff on a temporary basis to support teams at times of high demand and to bring in specialist skills which may be absent within staff teams.

The limited company rates remain unchanged for the forthcoming year. However any workers that completed their AYSE year since 1st January 2015 will continue to be capped to the same rate as they would be paid should they be moving into a permanent position.

The available data set relating to agency workers working on a PAYE basis across the region was very limited with only a fraction of one per cent of workers contributing to the figures. As detailed in the provider event of 28th January 2016 a much wider consultation in relation to these rates has been carried out which will allow for a sustainable supply of staff via this route should it be required going forward.

It must be remembered that all rates are caps. Whilst there is an acknowledgement that there will be a consistent race to the cap as standard the capped rates provide a framework for further movements downwards on a local or regional basis during the course of the forthcoming 12 months. It is hoped that suppliers will acknowledge that the lack of pressure on margins in this regional collaboration shows the importance that the Local Authorities place on suppliers in helping us to deliver the required services within the financial constraints placed upon us.

The pay rates for 2016/17 are as follows:

Job Title Limited Company PAYE
IRO £39.50 £27.30
Team Manager £39.50 £27.30
Senior Practitioner £32.50 £24.54
Senior Social Worker £30.00 £21.35
Social Worker £28.00 £18.67
Social Worker ASYE Completed in 2015 / 16 Pay Parity with Equivalent Permanent Staff


These payments relate to base pay only and for new placements from April 1st.

In relation to holiday pay for PAYE workers again there is a desire to have a regional cap. To enable this to be workable from an AWR perspective this needs to be at a level high enough for all to engage across the region. As such holiday pay above these PAYE rates is capped at 12.07% during the qualifying AWR period of 12 weeks and 17.59% the equivalent of 39 days paid leave per annum thereafter.

Again it must be remembered that this is a cap and authorities have the ability within their own local arrangements to come down from this rate where allowed under AWR.

2. Ensuring a high quality workforce

As detailed at the providers’ event in January the response to the Quality Record for agency staff has been disappointing.

Following feedback from workers and suppliers we have therefore formally renamed the “Regional Agency Appointment Log” as this provides a better description of the information contained therein. We have already provided centrally approved communications for Local Authorities to approach new and existing agency workers to encourage engagement.

Local Authorities have also agreed that from a set date in the future that all requests for Qualified Social Workers will be accompanied by a request to detail whether submitted candidates have consented to the creation of an appointment log.

The benefits to all parties (workers, employment businesses and local authorities) of the appointment log and the standardised reference have been acknowledged and agreed. There will be a request shortly for suppliers of agency staff to engage with workers to consent to the creation of an appointment log.

3. A collaborative approach

The 14 West Midlands Local Authorities will continue to meet on a regular basis and we will also meet twice yearly with suppliers of temporary staff as we believe by working together we can continue to improve the quality of temporary staff.

We will look at areas where we can improve market intelligence and other management information and share knowledge around CPD opportunities for Agency Staff.

We will also continue to look for new areas where suppliers can support the work of local authorities in delivering services to Local Authorities.

More information on this project can be found at:




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