Social workers are leaving Kirklees Council - and moving to neighbouring Calderdale with a “golden handcuffs” deal.
Now a drive to recruit more social workers is underway after some left due to the financial incentives from the neighbouring council.
Kirklees Council has 13 social work practitioner vacancies and had 37 other vacancies in June.
In the last 12 months 26 social workers left - some due to retirement and relocation, but some when Calderdale Council offered so-called ‘golden handcuffs’.
It means Kirklees will launch a recruitment drive to boost their social worker numbers this autumn, but doesn’t have the same financial clout to offer incentives.
Calderdale confirmed extra payments were offered, Stuart Smith, the council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Service, said: “From January this year we have introduced a retention policy for our social workers who focus on the most demanding child protection cases.
“This means that if they stay with us for up to three years they will receive an additional payment, enabling more permanent and stable relationships to be built with the most vulnerable young people.
“This is especially necessary while there is a national shortage of child protection social workers.”
The deal came to light at a Kirklees Council Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Children and Young People, which looked at the recruitment and retention of social workers.
Catherine Harrison, Kirklees Service Manager and social worker, said retention had been an issue in the last six to eight months.
She said: “Some have moved into Calderdale due to their recent drive to recruit staff, they have created specialist posts and they’ve got some financial packages that have made it attractive to move.
“Calderdale (children’s services) has been in special measures for some time and they’ve had significant financial investment which enables them to offer financial incentives. Kirklees hasn’t been in a similar position, luckily, but it means we don’t have the additional resources to offer a financial incentive.”
Kirklees has already made steps to fill the posts, recruiting newly-qualified social workers.
Catherine Harrison added: “They are required by the government to have a reduced case load for the first 12 months, so more cases are absorbed in the team or delayed, which can be challenging to the service.”
Kirklees has 272 social work practitioners, and the Panel were told there were no known redundancies.
Salaries offered in Kirklees are comparable with Yorkshire and Humber authorities.
One other reason given for social workers leaving was issues travelling to work when they were relocated to a new office.
Clr Cahal Burke, chair of the Kirklees Scrutiny Panel, said car parking was limited at the new base and it was something Kirklees had to address.
He added: “I think we need to look at what concerns our social workers have and offer what we can to support them doing this vital job.”