THE elected boss of Worcestershire’s children’s services says a £4,000 cash incentive offered to new social workers is about stealing a march on rival employers.

Councillor Liz Eyre told your Worcester News the radical policy is aimed at competing with town halls in areas like Birmingham and the Black Country for top talent.

For several years, Worcestershire has missed out on the best fully qualified social workers because other authorities have tended to pay more.

County Hall now wants to secure a reputation as being a great employer for social workers looking to work with children.

As your Worcester News revealed on Monday, up to £4,000 will be offered to new staff on top of annual salaries which can climb to £29,000.

Coun Eyre, the cabinet member for children and families, said: “We have looked at this very carefully and know we need to attract the right people if we want to progress.

“We know we are short of being able to do that, and we realise we need to be in the right marketplace for attracting the best staff. “

Everybody is struggling with both recruitment and retention, so we asked ourselves, what do we need to do to change that.

“We know Worcestershire is a great place to live and work, but what we’ve got to is get that message out to other people.

“This is a fundamental change for us that means we can compete with those areas and tackle a very specific problem.”

The offer is part of a £2.4m investment by the Tory leadership to create 30 new social worker posts for dealing with children.

Around 20 of those roles have been filled but bosses want the remaining vacancies by highly experienced staff.

It is the first time the county council has ever offered lump sum payments to potential new social workers, and follows years of losing workers to rival authorities.

To make matters worse, many former council staff now set themselves up as ‘independent’ social workers, taking on freelance employment themselves.

Coun Eyre said: “We are competing with other employers and if you can’t grow your staffing base, you can’t take the service where we want it to be.”