Latest Public Sector News

30.11.18

New children’s services commissioner takes over at Northamptonshire

The government has appointed a children’s services commissioner for Northamptonshire and issued a statutory direction to the county council requiring immediate improvement.

The direction follows a damning report from Ofsted which said that the council’s children’s services had declined “significantly” in the last two years after inspectors found social workers “overwhelmed” and “drowning.”

The Department for Education has appointed Malcolm Newsam as the children’s services commissioner, who is now tasked with drastically improving the region’s services.

The Ofsted report, published 13 November, found that children were “not consistently or effectively assessed, supported or protected,” with major concerns over workforce capacity, oversight and case progression.

Inspectors noted that the financial uncertainty plaguing the council had led to shortfalls in social work capacity across the children’s services, creating unmanageable caseloads and unassessed work.

Following the inspection, James Brokenshire announced in a written statement that an additional commissioner would be appointed as swift action was needed to “strengthen the focus on children in the current intervention” by adding another person.

In May, the government appointed both a lead and finance commissioner to help balance the books at the struggling local authority, and yesterday they published their first progress report on work to rebuild the council.

Facing a budget deficit of £70m, Northamptonshire became the first council in 20 years to issue a section 114 spending ban in February, followed by a second section 114 notice in July.

Newsam’s role is to provide immediate support to stabilise and improve Northamptonshire’s children’s services, and to work with the other commissioners to decide how best to deliver them.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said Newsam was a “very strong record” due to his track record in the field and his experience with local authorities.

Despite the announcement yesterday that £70m of capital receipts would be made available, commissioners are due to be in place until March 2019, providing the communities secretary with regular updates, with the current deficit alleged to be around £35m for the year.

Along with seven other Northamptonshire councils, the county council will make way for two new unitary authorities, with a consultation currently underway with the councils and local public organisations and residents.

Image credit - Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Cities as places of opportunity

29/04/2019Cities as places of opportunity

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, asks: if cities are pl... more >
Shaping healthy places with district councils

29/04/2019Shaping healthy places with district councils

District councils are achieving excellent outcomes by shifting health solut... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Empower your reader, choose print

07/05/2019Empower your reader, choose print

We are on a digital rollercoaster, swirling and twirling through a variety of different online advertising platforms – have we forgotten about traditional marketing plat... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >