Warwickshire County Council set to appoint second social care director to help meet demand
Plans for Warwickshire County Council to appoint a second director to cover adult and children’s social care have been met with the question of why it was considered a one-person job in the first place.
Both areas of council responsibility are currently covered by its director for people Nigel Minns but with surging demand for services and government reforms adding to requirements relating to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and social care across the board, the authority is set to create another post.
It is proposed that Mr Minns transitions to the role of director of children’s services with an “existing director” to be temporarily seconded to the post of director of adult social services.
The council’s report states the trial will last for two years. The arrangements will be “reviewed during that period with a decision made by the chief executive at that stage as to whether they will continue”.
While the salary bracket for such directors is quoted as being between £139,968 and £155,050 per year, the council anticipates that the plan will be “cost neutral to the council or absorbed from within current budget allocations, which may result in roles not being backfilled”.
Leader Councillor Izzi Seccombe OBE (Con, Stour and the Vale) said: “There have been a significant number of government policies that have come our way over recent times.
"The structure that we have been undertaking for a period of time with the people directorate is quite challenged by the capacity within it.
“The consideration is that perhaps it would be wise to take forward the changes as suggested to give us the capacity to cope with the issues that are coming from government.
"There are a lot.
“The purpose of doing this as proposed is to ensure we are cost neutral within the organisation, to deal with the plethora of legislation that is coming through and to look at the opportunities that we have within our organisation to step up.”
There was agreement across the chamber that the move was sensible and would provide necessary support to the council departments currently facing the most strain – financially and in terms of demand – but Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Eastlands) was quick to relive the past.
“As the leader will know, I was never a great fan of creating this people directorate some years ago,” he said.
“I wanted to keep the children’s and adult social care separated. We had that debate then so it is a bit like deja vu.
“I fully support the proposals that are coming through, it is quite right that the workload is increasing.
" It clearly needs to be separate.”
Addressing Cllr Roodhouse, Cllr Seccombe replied: “I know where you were, I fully understand that.
“The flexibility that we have shown in the past about whether one set of circumstances are fit for the way we operate in another two, three, five or ten years is something we have always been aware of.
“This particular change reflects many other councils that are doing exactly the same as we are now, reflecting that there is a lot going on in this world of children’s and adults.
"There are a lot of costs involved and much that we need to do to try to address the challenges of demand-led services and affordability of them.
“Having a close eye on the ball can only help us in trying to achieve those very difficult and particular challenges.”
The report says that 61 councils with responsibility for social care had one director across children's and adult services in 2015, a figure that has reduced to 16, including Warwickshire, now.