Mayor to probe council pay gap

Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies
Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies

MAYOR of Doncaster Peter Davies has pledged to look at why social workers in the town are paid less than their South Yorkshire counterparts.

Mr Davies agreed to investigate the pay gap after being alerted to the issue by a member of the public at a Doncaster Council meeting.

Resident Doug Wright used a public forum at the authority’s Cabinet meeting to grill the mayor on the issue and said: “Is there anywhere in the budget that allows for significant increases for rates of pay for social workers in Doncaster? Is there any way of improving what is a difficult situation for them.”

Mr Davies said he was aware of the pay differentials and problems within the social services sector in Doncaster and told the meeting: “I met several social workers the other week who are very committed to their work and want to stay working in Doncaster. They were a very positive group of people but not unreasonably disappointed that people doing the same job in Barnsely are getting more money.

“We need to attract people to work in Doncaster and ought to be looking at how to do this.

“But we are struggling to keep essential services going right now and it is difficult to find money for people in the post or from outside.”

Chris Pratt, director of social services told the meeting at the new Civic Building that the mayor’s draft budget proposals, which are due to be discussed by the full council on February 21, included provisions to boost the number of social workers in the town.

He said: “There is provision in the budget to ensure we have the resources to employ the number of workers we need. We have £120,000 set aside for a recruitment campaign. We need to provide continuity for children and not have to rely on agency staff to help address the problems.”

Chief executive Jo Miller said: “We need to make sure we recruit and retain staff, it isn’t just about what people are paid but also that they are well supervised, safe and have the right caseloads. Those kind of things are what make people want to stay.”

Mr Davies, who last week announced his decision to step down from the English Democrats and who is set to fight May’s mayoral election contest as an independent candidate, said: “It is definitely an issue that we need to look at more closely. It is good sense but we need to look carefully.”