THE number of costly agency staff being used by Social Services in Powys is falling, councillors have been told.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Health and Care scrutiny committee on Thursday, April 11 councillors were given an update on how the council is “growing its own” social workers and how this is helping staff recruitment and retention in the departments.

Senior manager for safeguarding and quality assurance for children’s services, Holly Gordon explained the process where the council supports people to follow social work qualification courses.

This includes degree and master’s degree courses and the council provides practical learning opportunities.

Dr Gordon said: “In terms of starter and leaver rates over the last 12 months there has been a change in that we’re recruiting more people than leavers which is really positive.


“This is having an impact on our agency social work rates in children’s services – and a gradual reduction is happening.

“We are projecting that will continue based on our grow our own outcomes.”

The report showed that over a two year period the numbers of agency staff working for the council had fallen from 49 in March 2022, to 21 by this March.

Dr Gordon said that in 2021 children’s services had 15 student placements which had increased to 30 by 2024, with 25 of these being council employees.

Dr Gordon said: “This year we are expecting eight newly qualified social workers to come out of this programme for children’s (services) and five for adult’s (services).”

Committee vice-chairman and member of Independents for Powys group, Cllr Gareth E Jones asked for the difference in cost between agency and staff social workers.

County Times: Cllr Gareth JonesCllr Gareth Jones

Head of children’s social services, Sharon Powell said: “Roughly agency staff is double and more the salary of the permanent member of staff.

“But we can get you the specifics and do a cost analysis of the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rates of agency staff, I can forward you that data.”

She added that less than 20 per cent of the staff are made up of agency workers.

Ms Powell added: “The trajectory is coming down all the time and this year with our cohort of eight that number will become lower.

But Ms Powell said that there will “always be a need” for agency staff because of work turnover.

Committee chairwoman, Conservative Cllr Amanda Jenner said: “Generally the data is looking really positive, and things seem to be moving in the right directions.”

The committee noted the report.