Concerns have been raised about the council’s ability to retain children’s social workers.

This comes after it emerged other Berkshire authorities, such as Slough Borough Council and Reading Borough Council, have been poaching social workers from Bracknell by offering them more money to work for their children’s services.

And Sonia Johnson, Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care at Bracknell Forest Council (BFC), told councillors at a meeting on Wednesday (January 9) that a social worker had resigned earlier that day after another had stepped down in 2018.

She said: “One of the challenges we are going to face is that the trusts in Slough and Reading are not capping what they pay their social workers.

“I have had a resignation today – they have offered her a greater amount to work there. They offered her an extortionate rate that we simply cannot compete with.

“There is going to be some challenges with how we manage that.”

Councillor Tony Virgo asked the assistant director how much more other authorities were offering in comparison to Bracknell Forest Council (BFC).

Ms Johnson replied: “We lost a worker to Reading last month. He said, “they are offering me a stupid amount of money”. It was probably £20-£30 an hour more than we were offering.”

Councillor Virgo said: “I thought that because of the Berkshire grouping this would not happen, because we would all stick together.”

As a result of the departures, latest figures showed average caseloads for children’s social workers have increased, having decreased in the previous quarter – but the authority is still on track to meet its caseload targets.

Despite the financial offers from nearby authorities, Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard, executive member for children, young people and learning, told councillors about the benefits of working in Bracknell Forest for social workers.

He said: “We have done a lot over the years to improve the working conditions and improve the working environment.

“We take students and new social workers here as it gives us the opportunity to mould workers so that they want to stay here.

“If social workers want to work in a well-run, well-resourced children’s services, there is no better place than Bracknell Forest.

“We can’t control what other authorities do. One thing I am confident of is that we have happy staff here and this is something I’m proud of. We give them the opportunity to practice.

“We have been in this position before. We will keep this on review.”

Councillors discussed the issue at a meeting of the Children, Young People & Learning Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Wednesday, January 9.