London Pledge

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

The London Pledge 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.

Project Milestones

To increase our understanding of this field we conducted researching including;

  1. Social Worker Bank Feasibility – this report explores the current state of play, the agency supplier market and behaviours, public purchasing frameworks and national developments. This work was funded by the DfE through the Recovery Fund.
  2. Agency Worker Focus Group & Survey – this research explored the push and pull factors driving permanent Social Worker to move into and stay in the agency market, understanding the impact of the pandemic and systemic issues affecting retention.

Key milestones have included;

  1. Launched the London Pledge in June 2022 with 32 London Boroughs signed up, the most significant collaborative workforce agreement in the region.
  2. Established governance groups under Director of Children’s Services leadership across the 5 sub-regions.
  3. Achieved 100% regional data in July 2022 for the first time, with all 33 London Boroughs providing and sharing in their agency pay rate. This record has been upheld throughout the life of the project so far.
  4. Held quarterly provider events to maintain engagement and support shared learnings
  5. Introduced a regional statement of principles and practice for remote working in child and family social work

“The London Pledge has quickly garnered great levels of support and proactive cooperation across the DCS network. Working in partnership with respective service managers, HR officers, Managed Service Providers and agency suppliers, the Pledge is being positively responded and adhered to. Where clarification is required, system leaders are committing to mechanisms to explore and address matters in a timely and clear way which is building confidence in this new approach to support improvements in recruitment, retention and at its heart, day to day practice.” – East Sub-Region DCS Lead

“By insisting on correct referencing we are already seeing better quality information to support our recruitment activity and by being unwavering in requests for higher rates we have successfully negotiated new contracts within the Pledge. To ensure that the Pledge has the desired positive impact it is important for us all to hold the line, our nerve and each other to account.” – North West Sub-Region DCS Lead


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What our partners say

“The pledge is in place and despite all us agency folk having some trepidation at first it does seem to be working well and is of benefit to all of us.”

“It is working better than we expected and more than any previous agreement. We have seen more traction since September.”

“There is more of a level playing field between boroughs now, so it now comes down to each borough’s reputation as an employer and place to work.”

“Hiring managers are much more informed and we are seeing a real improvement in understanding and application of the agreement.”

“We are seeing the positive impact of all MSPs giving agencies the same message. We are all telling them the same thing.”

“The market pressures are not specific to social work or London. We are seeing the same staffing challenges in food safety, PAs and many other areas.”

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