TWENTY one new social workers will be recruited to help reduce workloads, it was revealed yesterday.

The plans will increase the number of social workers in the county from 164 to 185 – a rise of nearly 13 per cent.

In yesterday’s meeting to scrutinise the county council’s draft budget, councillors were told about the £1.4m plan.

The investment comes in stark contrast to plans to save an extra £46m over the next four years following a reduced Government grant settlement.

During the children’s services scrutiny committee meeting, head of children’s services Jim Leivers rebuffed claims from councillor Peter Handley that three social workers were often dealing with the same issue.

Mr Leivers said: “I don’t know where you have got your figures from Peter but they are pure fantasy. I do not have social workers sitting around with low caseloads and nothing to do.

“My social workers are working 50-hour weeks.”

It was revealed that the current average caseload for a social worker employed by the county council is 28, and it is hoped the additional employees should help bring this down to 20.