FEWER agency social workers should be needed in the new Dorset Council – saving council taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The claim comes from outgoing acting social services director Nick Jarman.

He says that at least 16 of the posts currently filled in children’s services by agency workers should be taken up in the months to come under the new Dorset Council by staff – with each resulting in a saving of up to £30,000 a year – the typical difference between the cost of a staff and agency social worker.

Mr Jarman says the vacancy rate will also be helped, in July, when staff who have been seconded to a ‘reinvigorating social work’ programme return to their previous roles.

He told the county council audit and governance committee (Monday) that Dorset County Council currently had 290 social workers in the department, including 22 managers at different levels.

Mr Jarman said that 128 general social workers looked after 1,908 cases, a ratio of 1:15; an assessment team of 17 workers were currently dealing with 488 cases, a ratio of 1:28, but he said this level was acceptable as their work was to carry out an initial investigation and then pass cases on to the relevant team. for longer term support. Elsewhere the authority has 123 social workers in a range of areas dealing with 667 cases, also a ratio of fifteen cases for each worker.

He said that there might be minor changes to the ratios once the new Dorset Council came into being from April when he expected to be able to reduce the current level of 30 agency social workers – 28 covering vacancies and two filling in for staff on maternity leave.

Mr Jarman estimated that at least 16 of those posts would be replaced by staff, leaving 14 agency social workers still working for the authority. If his estimates are correct it could result in savings of up to £480,000.