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Write to Barnet Council urging them to end the strikes!

Children’s social workers in Barnet Council are currently paid between 15% and 25% more than Adults’ social workers. A lead practitioner with extensive social work experience and line responsibility in an adult mental health team is paid only £1,000 more than a newly qualified social worker in a children and family team. There is no difference in the qualifications required to be a Children’s social worker or an Adults’ social worker, the only difference is the value placed on those roles by Barnet Council.

Many Mental Health social workers are also Advanced Mental Health Practitioners (AMHP). This intensive course trains social workers to assess whether an adult in mental health crisis should be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. This is a specialist skill set and significant responsibility, but the salary received for this is less than that of a duty and assessment social worker in the Children and Family service, despite that role requiring no additional training.

In Barnet Council’s own words “There are national shortages of social workers and occupational therapists in adult social care, especially when looking for experienced staff. This challenge is greater in London…” Yet despite acknowledging the recruitment and retention crisis Barnet Council refuses to apply its own social work recruitment and retention policy to all social workers it employs.

These workers are looking for a recruitment and retention payment of 20%. This is less than the 25% recruitment and retention payment already given to some Barnet Children’s social workers. Children’s social workers receive between 15% and 25% recruitment and retention payment, Barnet Council offered Adults’ social workers and OTs the equivalent of a 2.7% payment for two years only.

Barnet UNISON social work members feel that a 20% payment will encourage more members of staff, particularly the most experienced, to stay in Barnet thus reducing the frequent and destabilising turnover they have been experiencing. In addition, it aims to attract new, permanent and experienced social workers who may be opting for work in better paid boroughs. It is only when we have stable staff numbers and staff with significant experience, in addition to the newly qualified staff, that Barnet Council will be able to lower waiting lists and provide the timely and quality care that our members want to give to residents.

Please show your support by writing to Barnet Council to urge them to equitably apply their recruitment and retention policy and demonstrate that it values mental health community services in the same way it values children and family services.

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