DURHAM County Council is offering a cash incentive in an effort to attract top-of-the-class social work graduates.

It will pay £1,800 bursaries to ten final-year students doing degrees at North-East universities and colleges.

It needs more people for its expanding child care service but is facing difficulties because of a shortage in students training for social work.

Social services director Peter Kemp said: "Quite simply we've got the resources available, but we're in competition with social services departments throughout the region and up and down the country who are also crying out for good quality child care social workers.

"It's a particularly competitive marketplace and we are taking this step to ensure we can fill the vacancies we have with the highest quality students.

"We operated the scheme last year and it attracted a lot of interest.

"As a result we were able to recruit more high-quality social workers."

Anyone interested in the scheme should call 0191-383 4641.