Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 07:54 UK

Baby P case 'hitting recruitment'

Baby P
Baby P died after months of abuse despite being monitored by officials

The death of Baby P has had a "highly damaging effect" on the ability of local councils in England to recruit social workers, a survey suggests.

The Local Government Association (LGA) found 60% of the 56 councils taking part in the study had problems hiring children's social workers.

It also found 40% reported difficulties in retaining experienced staff.

The LGA is blaming the criticism of the profession that followed the death of Baby P in Haringey, north London.

Most of the councils said it had become more difficult to recruit children's social workers during the past six months, and 40% said they thought it would become even harder during the next six months.

And 87% said they were having difficulties recruiting frontline staff to protect vulnerable children.

'Toughest jobs'

LGA chairman Margaret Eaton said: "These figures confirm the fear that councils are really struggling to recruit and keep the expert staff they need to ensure that vulnerable children are safe.

"The way in which the profession has been attacked over recent months has had a highly damaging effect on councils' ability to get the expert staff they need to protect children at risk."

She said being a children's social worker was among the "toughest jobs in Britain" but it was vital the profession was seen as attractive as well as challenging.

"Boosting recruitment and increasing the respect we all have for child social workers is the surest way to make sure that the best and brightest staff are working to protect our vulnerable children," she added.

Haringey Council was severely criticised following the death, after sustained abuse, of 17-month-old Baby P in August 2007.

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