A local authority involved in the care of Logan Mwangi, the five-year-old boy murdered by his mother, partner and stepson, has spent over £1million on agency social workers l he year the child was killed, he emerged.
Bridgend County Borough Council in South Wales spent £1.1million on agency social workers in 2021/22, up from £166,000 the previous year. So far this financial year he has spent over £800,000.
How social workers and other professionals handled Logan’s case in the months leading up to his death in July 2021 is being examined as part of a review of children’s practices in the tragedy, which is expected to publish its findings. this autumn.
The Welsh Conservatives, who got the figures, said they were unsure if staffing issues were a problem, but said the council’s reliance on agency workers was a serious concern.
Logan’s stepfather John Cole and mother Angharad Williamson were jailed for at least 29 and 28 years respectively earlier this year. Cole’s teenage stepson Craig Mulligan was detained for at least 15 years.
Their trial at Cardiff Crown Court heard that in the months before Logan’s death he had largely disappeared from the sight of authorities, with his family using the Covid pandemic as an excuse to lock him in the “dungeon” of his dark little room.
It also emerged that Mulligan, who had been in the care of local authorities, was moved to the family home five days before the murder, in a move prosecutors likened to throwing a lit match into a keg of gunpowder. The jury heard that a foster family who cared for Mulligan allegedly tipped off a social worker that he had threatened to kill Logan, but claimed their fears were dismissed. The social worker denied having been informed of these threats.
Conservative shadow minister for social care, Gareth Davies, said: “We have known for a long time about the understaffing in social care departments in Wales.
“While we don’t know if this contributed to the lapses that left Logan in a dangerous environment, the township’s reliance on temps is very concerning and does not inspire confidence.
“Children need a strong social services presence but that cannot happen when counseling is so dependent on agency staff because permanent placements are what lead to better outcomes because someone can handle a case consistently this way. I believe our findings serve to support our calls for a Wales-wide review of social services.
A spokesman for Bridgend Council said: ‘It is normal that local authorities who are having difficulty finding and retaining social care staff may take on agency workers in order to meet their statutory responsibilities for safety of adults and children.
“The issue of social worker recruitment is an ongoing national concern affecting many councils across the UK, which has already resulted in a major joint recruitment drive by the Welsh Government and Social Care Wales.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We have set out an ambitious agenda for reform to transform childcare services in Wales and have made it clear that now is the time for action, not further scrutiny. thorough.
“We recently announced a £10 million support package for social work students as part of our work to recruit more social workers. We work with the sector to improve the recruitment and retention of social workers.