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More than £1.3 million was spent on agency social workers by Cheshire East Council last year, writes Ethan Davies.

A Freedom of Information request to the council shows that officials sanctioned a £1,370,528 spend on agency social workers in the 2019-20 municipal term.

Eighteen staff were employed by the authority in adult services on August 1, data shows.

A further 14 were working in the children’s services department at the start of last month.

This figure of 32 combined staff has not changed much in a year, as 34 agency staff were being used in September 2019.

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: “There is a national shortage of qualified social workers and many local authorities are having to use agency staff to meet the increasing demand for resources in the social care sector.

“The figure represents a small percentage of the overall budget for adult and children’s social care in Cheshire East and the costs also include the fees the authority has to pay to agencies who supply staff.”

The Local Government Association was contacted for comment.

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