Social Work News is owned by Sanctuary Personnel, one of the biggest social worker employment agencies in England.
Every single person who writes for Social Work News is paid by Sanctuary Personnel, they work for Sanctuary Personnel.
Sanctuary Personnel make their money by signing up social workers to work as locums. Local Authorities will then approach Sanctuary Personnel when they need staff and Sanctuary Personnel will supply social workers. They will pay the social workers, usually a higher rate than a local authority will, and charge the local authority extra on top. So a locum social worker will cost a local authority a lot more than one on a permanent contract.
There are a lot of problems with agency social workers, the cost is obvious, local authorities paying extra for staff means there is less money for them to spend on helping people. Sometimes agencies will refuse to supply just one worker and will insist on a whole team or nothing, so the local authority has a choice between having no worker or having to pay for a whole team of 8 or 10 when they don’t need that many.
Then there is the damage that a revolving door of locum social workers do to service users, especially children, it’s not ideal.
Agency social work will be banned in Northern Ireland from June.
For England, the Department for Education is looking at putting into place things that will reduce both the cost to local authorities of agency social workers, and the revolving door social work where children can end up with a different social worker each month.
There are also real concerns regarding newly qualified social workers going straight to agency work as soon as they qualify.
None of these things are good for social work..
Here is an article on Community Care which describes what the Dfe are planning to do.
This is a list of the proposed rules from that article.
Proposed agency staff rules
- All procurement of agency staff should follow national rules.
- National price caps on what local authorities may pay per hour for locums.
- A requirement for social workers who graduated in or after April 2024 to have a minimum of five years’ post-qualified experience working within children’s social care and completion of the ASYE to be appointed to an agency post.
- A ban on agency project teams.
- A requirement for employers to request and provide references for all agency social worker candidates.
- That councils do not engage agency workers for a period of three months after they have left a substantive role within the same region (excluding certain exceptions).
- A requirement for a minimum six-week notice period for agency social workers.
- The collection and sharing of core agency and pay data, to support better workforce planning and the ability to monitor, enforce and assess the impact of the proposals.
As a service user I can see many benefits to those proposals that will help the most important people, which are children. The government has screwed over social work for the past 12 years and money is tight. Given that I feel that it’s unlikely that the present government is going to care about social work anytime soon, then money needs to be saved. Stopping overpaying for social workers is one way to do so.
I’m not saying that agency social workers aren’t worth what they are being paid, but it’s not just what they are paid, it’s also the amounts the agency gets paid on top of what the actual social worker is getting paid that is a huge problem. Social workers need a pay rise, that isn’t in doubt.
The thing I found chilling was that NQSW’s can jump straight in to agency work, that is not okay and needs to be changed.
Social Work News have now removed any reference to them being a part of Sanctuary Personnel and the wages of everyone who writes for them being paid by Sanctuary Personnel. If you click anywhere on the site it does tell you who is employed by Social Work News and there is zero mentioned that it is run by Sanctuary Personnel.
The old ‘about us’ page is however still online, I only found it because I bookmarked it, there is no other way to find the connection if you just go on the Social Work News website. It is not linked anywhere on the Social Work News site or anywhere on their socials. Here is the link:
On April 4th Social Work News published the following article:
The Department for Education (DFE) held a consultation event for Local Authority agency social workers today, and Social Work News attended to ask questions on your behalf
Given that Social Work News is Sanctuary Personnel, it was in effect Sanctuary Personnel who went to an event for local authority social workers to ask questions on behalf of Sanctuary Personnel whose business depends on keeping things as they are now with regards to agency social workers.
The DFE did not go into detail about incentives it would be offering agency social workers in the hope they would move to permanent roles, with the focus being on what restrictions it seeks to put in place, as opposed to encouraging locum workers with motivation to switch.
The DFE are solely focused on what is best for service users, of course they aren’t going to offer agency social workers an incentive to switch, they aren’t going to offer them a puppy, or more wages, or less cases. In an ideal world that would be what they would get and what every single social worker would get, but we are living in the real world.
During the Q&A section, Social Work News asked why there was a specific focus on driving down agency rates and wages in social work while this same attention has not been given to other professions. Our reporter made specific reference to The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013 and how these appear to value all comparable professionals at a higher rate than social workers.
Who cares? We are talking about social workers, what have other professions got to do with it? An extremely biased question which has clearly come from Sanctuary Personnel.
The DFE pointed out that there was a need to consider “public expenses” and that all public money must be better accounted for. The DFE then repeated concerns about the money being spent on agency social workers by local authorities. When pressed to explain why social workers are being focused on in particular, especially when their rates are lower than comparable professionals, the DFE were unable to answer.
There you go, Sanctuary Personnel clutching at straws in an attempt to try and make the changes not happen. Public money has to be better accounted for, as a service user I don’t want my money wasted on agency social workers, I don’t want my money wasted on local authorities having to pay for a whole team when they only need one social worker.
Here are my views on agency social workers as a service user:
My main problem with them is the very nature of being agency means they don’t always stick around until a piece of work is done, until a child is safe. They are why children have many social workers which leads to a poorer outcome for families.
I love how Social Work News ended the article:
The DFE has encouraged agency social workers impacted by their proposed changes to engage with their consultation, which remains open until the 11th of May 2023.
No mention of the fact that the consultation and the link is open to all, not just agency workers, but Social Work News do not want to encourage local authority social workers to engage as that wouldn’t be good for Sanctuary Personnel.
It doesn’t state who wrote the article and who attended the consultation event, just that Social Work News attended to ask questions on your behalf.
What actually happened was that Sanctuary Personnel attended to ask questions on their own behalf and then have told readers that agency social workers are encouraged to engage with the consultation.
Sanctuary Personnel do not want the new changes to occur, it would be ridiculous if they did as they stand to lose a lot of money if/when the changes happen. It would be like a turkey voting for Christmas.
Social Work News is not, and has never been, non-biased.
While they do not name the person from Social Work News who attended the consultation, possibly because it was someone who works directly for Sanctuary Personnel and not one of the usual Social Work News writers, the whole article was a call for people to object to the new proposals.
The writers of Social Work News are working for Sanctuary Personnel, everything they write has to be within the interests of Sanctuary Personnel.
There is never any mention of the harm that agency workers cause to children through them having a stream of different workers. There is always a lot of stories that show working for local authorities in a poor light. All of the writers tend to show social work in a poor light, a really poor light, I guess to give the reader the impression that their job working for a local authority is rubbish, the only alternative to that is working for an agency.
Sanctuary Personnel already donate heavily to The Social Work Awards, they get a lot of advertising, they get to be involved at a high level with a lot of local authorities, and they also get to mingle with MP’s at the parliamentary presentation.
They have now sent a representative under the guise of impartial journalism to a DFE consultation about agency workers. They have then encouraged agency workers to contact the DFE, again, under the guise of impartial journalism.
Social Work News is wholly owned by Sanctuary Personnel, they are not impartial, they favour what suits them over providing fair and balanced journalism.
This is proven further by Sanctuary Personnel now removing any trace of their ownership of Social Work News from the website.
Sanctuary Personnel and thus Social Work News, do not care about the impact that agency social workers have on children, where children keep having to have different social workers because agency social workers flit from job to job.
All Sanctuary Personnel care about is getting as much public money as they can, they are a business, and that is what a business does.
There is a lot to discuss in the social work world regarding agency workers and this should be done impartially, to work out what really is best for service users and the general public, Social Work News just want what is best for Sanctuary Personnel and their stories will always reflect that as they work for Sanctuary Personnel.