The South East Region was updated and re-launched in April 2022. All nineteen SE local authorities and they have committed to implementing the new agreement. With eighteen doing so from the 1stApril 2022. The key terms of the new MoC are to apply maximum hourly pay rate caps for agency social workers and managers and to:  


  • Adopt a common minimum standard for referencing to help prevent ‘recycling’ of poor quality permanent and agency workers.
  • Use end of placement reviews with adequate information passed back to the agency workers and the agency supplier to determine any development requirements or to cease placing the worker to help to address quality issues.
  • To work towards fully implementing the terms of this MoC via all their suppliers, i.e. main contractor and any 2nd tier suppliers.
  • Proactively use their agency supply chain as a pipeline for the supply of permanent workers, in addition to direct recruitment. All LAs acknowledge that working as an interim helps to build experience and enhances productivity.
  • Ensure that permanent and agency workers are clear from the outset of the MoC and how it is being adopted by all signatory LAs and their agency suppliers. LAs and suppliers will provide standardised information on the MoC during recruitment and at induction.
  • LAs and all their suppliers (whether providing permanent or temporary supply of workers) to refrain from aggressive ‘headhunting’ from within those LAs that have adopted the MoC, unless for a promotional role. Some rules of engagement will be developed in discussion with LAs for this purpose.

The Memorandum of Cooperation was relaunched on the 1st April 2022

All 19 local authorities in the region have pledged their support to this approach and the MoC is now operational.

Councils in the region have recognised that competing with each other to recruit social workers has become counter productive and has contributed to the increased reliance on agency staff and escalating costs.

The Memorandum of Cooperation aims to ensure a more collaborative approach to recruiting social workers and to the employment of agency staff, when necessary, making it harder for agencies to persuade social workers to leave their permanent post with a local authority.

The Memorandum contains four key measures: 

  • An agency pay cap to stop pay rates from escalate as authorities paying higher and higher hourly rates
  • Agreement to refrain from aggressive head hunting
  • A standardised approach to references for agency staff
  • A six month “cooling off” period for permanent staff moving to agency work

A new approach to recruitment will be taken, with local authorities devising their own recruitment campaigns to attract quality social workers in to their permanent employ, rather than commissioning recruitment agencies to ‘head hunt’ social workers and managers. The aim of this is to increase stability in the workforce and reduce the incentives for staff to repeatedly move between authorities.

Through the Memorandum, work is also being undertaken to improve the quality of agency staff. There are many reports of poor quality agency workers moving frequently between authorities. The Memorandum agrees a new standardised approach to references that will help to ensure better shared communication between authorities and, in turn, improve the quality and accountability of agency social workers and managers.

The Memorandum also contains an agreement that signatory authorities will not employ social workers as agency staff, if they were permanent as members of staff in another signatory authority within the previous 6 months. Workers can still freely move between direct employment with authorities across the region.

Governance & Reports

The Memorandum of Cooperation has a governance body constituted of representative DCSs, Assistant Directors Safeguarding and HR Partners. The new body is scheduled to meet for the first time on the 24th June 2022 

The following Local Authorities have agreed to implement the new MoC for managing the demand and supply of Children’s Social Workers from 1st April 2022:

Signed MoC Approvals

Bracknell Forest Council

Brighton and Hove City Council

Buckinghamshire County Council

East Sussex County Council

Hampshire County Council

Isle of Wight Council

Kent County Council

Medway Council

Milton Keynes Council

Oxfordshire County Council

Portsmouth City Council

Slough Borough Council (Slough Children First)

Southampton City Council

Surrey County Council

West Berkshire Council

West Sussex County Council

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (Achieving for Children)

Wokingham Borough Council

    Contact Details

    CSC Workforce and DfE Project Phase 2 Lead: Mark Evans
    07803 147072