London's Workforce Steering Group was formed in July 2022 focused on the social work workforce to addressing recruitment and retention challenges, including understanding agency push and pull factors, responding to racism and working collaboratively to celebrate London and Social Work careers in the capital!

Together we are committed to improving services for children and young people by improving the experience of our valued children’s workforce and enabling them to individually and collectively thrive.

Some of our key projects include;

The London Pledge is a regional commitment by 32 London Boroughs, to address the reliance on agency staff and rising costs through collaboration rather than competition

It is a shared commitment by London’s Directors of Children’s Services to addressing increasing agency reliance together; 32 of the London’s Boroughs are working collaboratively to establish a more balanced social worker workforce across London, by collecting data on a quarterly basis, working actively with providers to improve partnership working with the existing supply chain, controlling rising agency worker rates through agreed regional capped rates based on evidence, and ensuring accurate performance feedback on candidates through a shared reference template.

Project Goals

  • To ensure improved information sharing, speed and accountability through Children Services led governance and referencing.
  • To give each borough time to retain their existing workforce and develop their permanent offer to increase stability for children.
  • To enable each borough to control costs through shared commitment and established governance under children services control.
  • To improve engagement with the agency supply chain to drive better performance and celebrate those agencies supporting London’s children.

Framework for London in Permanent (FLiP) Children's Social Work Recruitment is the creation of a regional framework for specialist agencies, dedicated to supporting the permanent recruitment of children’s social workers into London’s professional sector.

The implementation of the London Pledge and subsequent evaluations have provided the basis for accelerated learning through consistent engagement with the agency market and London boroughs directly to better understand the opportunities of regional framework could bring. 

Our research and evaluations highlighted that Local Authorities are not able to access social work agencies effectively or consistently through existing frameworks, which are not specialist to social work in nature. Negotiations are therefore frequently conducted on an agency-by-agency or case-by-case placement basis with a small selection of agencies, the arrangement of which are often heavily reliant on existing relationships with current hiring managers. Agencies have also told us that they are unable to consistently engage with all London Boroughs through existing frameworks and therefore prioritise those Boroughs that they are able to agree the best fee with and/or have the best relationship/engagement with. This brings inconsistency across the region and impacts on the engagement with both candidates seeking permanent employment and the agency market.

Project Goals

The creation of a framework for the permanent recruitment of children’s social workers is rooted in several core objectives:

  • Produce a supplier list for London which provides easy engagement with agencies
  • Provide a route to market which is supported by agencies able to deliver effectively
  • Reduce reliance on agency social workers
  • Introduce consistency in pricing
  • Provide consistent reporting in respect of engagement levels
  • Increase engagement of relevant agencies which can support London
  • To create a level playing field for both agencies and Local Authorities


The Big Listen is research being carried by London Innovation & Improvement Alliance (LIIA) in collaboration with the South East Sector Led Improvement Programme (SESLIP).

Together LIIA and SESLIP are working with the 52 local authorities and children’s trusts across the London and the South East to help us develop our respective regional workforce strategies. The survey alongside other activities (focus groups and best practice research) is designed to gather information to help ensure the strategy is informed by the best evidence.

Project Goals

  • We want to hear from a wide range of staff including: local authority social workers, social work managers, social work students, AYSE social workers, agency social workers and managers.
  • This research will be directly shared with Central Government to inform the response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care and influence national change in the sector.
  • The information collected will be used by the 33 London Local Authorities and 19 Local Authorities in the South East to develop a deeper understanding of how they can improve the workplace for children’s social workers.
  • When we have completed the research, we will collate the information gathered and develop an analysis to develop regional workforce strategies.
  • We aim to complete the research and report back in Spring 2023.

The information collated will be anonymised and not attributed to any individual.

Leadership in Colour - Two Years In

Read the full report here.

The Leadership in Colour Programme was created in August 2020 at the request of ALDCS to help address the under-representation of Global Majority staff in senior leadership positions within London’s Children’s Services.

The programme is designed and overseen by a Reference Group consisting of Global Majority managers from across London’s Children’s Services and currently numbers 65 people.    

Previous initiatives to address under-representation had not been successful and the involvement of affected staff was considered critical to bringing about real change.  There was frank acknowledgement that systemic racism has been a factor in workforce disproportionality and that both developmental opportunities for staff and organisational change were needed. Staff College are commissioned to run elements of the programme and work with the Reference Group on programme design.

International Recruitment - Regional Workshop

Ealing, Croydon, Harrow and Sutton came together to lead a regional international recruitment workshop for London, sharing their different approaches with over 40 attendees from London’s boroughs.

We also heard from four international colleagues who shared powerful personal experiences of integrating into UK culture and social work practice.

“It was really great and so good to hear so many examples of overseas recruitment.”

“A very informative session.”

“A lot of commonality in approach and some good examples of sensible but unique practice that others said they would utilise/ learn from.”

Visit the restricted area if you want to read more about the event and watch the video. You can login here.

Visit the restricted area if you want to read more about the event and watch the video. You can login here. 




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London's Strategic Workforce Objectives

1. Drive sufficiency and supply

  • Increase supply of talent to the children’s service workforce in order to strengthen the capacitcy
  • Develop a modern, confident and forward-looking profession that is equipped with the skills and expertise to make a positive difference to people’s lives

2. Strengthen and model leadership at all times

  • Develop strong, culturally competent leadership at all levels that builds trust in the profession and ensures that everyone can take pride in their workforce
  • Develop first line management training opportunities to ensure that our future leaders have the skills and confidence to manage, develop and identify talent
  • Amplify the voice of leadership to galvanise and influence on practice and policy and improve public perception and confidence

3. Ambitious London offer and increased stability

  • Develop a bold London offer that engages diverse and local talent conntect to place
  • Respond to the changed expectations and needs of the workforce, increasing flexibility and opportunity for individuals to enable retention across the varied and multiple professions required to deliver children’s services

4. Empower and develop talent

  • Ensure that our workforce is listened to, feel safe and able to practice across the capital, with consistent levels of support and that inclusive behaviours are adopted
  • Ensure training opportunities are reflective of evidenced areas for development and are made available to all, underpinned by consistent practice standards
  • Ensure the career pathway is clear and visible, and that staff are motivated and supported to engage in their professional development
  • Prioritise the wellbeing and emotional resilience of the workforce

5. Tackling racism and disproportionality

  • Ensure that anti-racism is woven into the fabric of activities to ensure equality and fair treatment for all and that everyone has the opportunity to thrive and that the workforce is representative of the community it serves
  • Support local authorities to tackle racism, embrd race equality in policies and be accountable for effective implementation to address deep rooted cultures of racism

6. Sustainability

  • Ensure this workforce strategy is owned and delivered in full collaboration with the workforce, to achieve long term change
  • Incorporate the voice of children and their families to support co-production and continuous service improvement