An advertising campaign highlighting Powys' proximity to major towns and cities has helped end the county council's over-reliance on agency staff.

The high number of agency workers employed by the authority has in the past been considered one of the causes of rising costs in the council's children's social services department, which has gone up to over £25.3 million a year.

Two critical reports by Care Inspectorate Wales had highlighted the large number of agency workers there.

But from a height of 43 agency workers in the department, the number of agency workers now stands at 29 – partly thanks to the council's advertising campaigns which were focused on encouraging people to relocate to the county by highlighting its proximity to larger towns and cities.

At the health and care scrutiny committee on Friday, September 11, the figures were brought up, as councillors discussed the draft annual director of social services report for 2019/20.

Asked about the number fall in agency staff numbers, director of social services Ali Bulman said: “There has been a huge recruitment drive to enhance that, we’ve done a lot on social media, we’ve had staff talking about their experiences working in Powys to try and attract people here.

“We’ve done a lot to demonstrate how accessible Powys is.”

She explained in  a recruitment capaign they had shown that Powys is, “closer than you think” to major cities and towns.

Ms Bulman added that new staff intake “spoke positively” about their experiences of working for Powys Council, and that this was being shared in the social work community circles.

Ms Bulman also explained that retaining existing staff had also been vital.

“That is just as important if not more so than recruitment because if you retain good quality staff you don’t need to bring new staff through the front door," said Ms Bulman.

The council's portfolio holder for children’s social services, Rachel Powell, added: “We’ve also successfully recruited agency staff, some to senior posts.

“That demonstrates how people believe in the work ethic and principles we are trying to push.

“There’s still work to be done, but it demonstrates the stability of the workforce.”