Welfare

10.10.16

Sandwell becomes latest met to lose control of children’s services

Children’s services in Sandwell are to be transferred from the council to a newly formed trust as part of a government intervention to address concerns about the services.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, has issued a directive instructing the council to develop plans to transfer children’s services to the trust by 1 December.

Ofsted rated Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council children’s services as ‘inadequate’ last year.

In a letter to the council, Edward Timpson, the minister for vulnerable children, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council has failed its most vulnerable children and young people for approaching seven years. This is unacceptable and I am determined to reverse this record of failure.”

He said he appreciated there would be “anxiety” about the decision, but that children’s services should demonstrate to social workers that it would provide an opportunity for “a fresh start”.

Timpson acknowledged the direction would create anxiety among social workers in Sandwell, but said there had been “encouraging signs of improvement” following the establishment of trusts by Doncaster, Slough and Kingston upon Thames.

The news comes after the announcement earlier this year that children’s services in Birmingham, which, like Sandwell, is a partner in the newly formed West Midlands Combined Authority, will be taken over by a voluntary trust.

Eleanor Brazil, the council’s then children’s services commissioner, published a report in July saying that services were not improving and should be removed from the council’s control.

The findings of the latest Ofsted inspection, published last week, stressed that services are now making “positive changes”. It said that the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) had improved its information gathering and intervention where it was concerned about children.

However, it found “inconsistent” decision-making and oversight, with poor management leading to issues such as alleged victims of physical abuse not seeing a paediatrician.

It noted that the quality of social work assessment and plans was “poor” and an area for concern.

Regarding the issue of child sexual exploitation, Ofsted said that partner agencies were engaging positively, new senior managers had been appointed and children’s services were taking decisive action in most cases.

However, key agencies did not always attend meetings and information was not always properly recorded.

A recent report from Ofsted said that frontline services in four key areas still need to improve in tackling child sexual exploitation.

Ofsted warned recently that 24% of local authority children’s services are rated ‘inadequate’, and complaints about children’s services to the Local Government Ombudsman have increased by 13% in the past year.

Tony Barnsley, joint secretary of the Sandwell branch of Unison, told BBC News that if members did not receive a guarantee over pay and pensions following changes to children’s services, they would “have little choice” but to issue a ballot.

Cllr Simon Hackett, council member for children’s services, said: “We acknowledge intervention can help us reach the high standards we are determined to achieve.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

November too late for pay cap decision, GMB says

25/09/2017November too late for pay cap decision, GMB says

The GMB has criticised the government’s choice to defer the decision of ending the public sector pay cap until the Autumn Budget on 22 Nove... more >
LGA: TfL Uber decision shows need for ‘urgent reform’ of outdated taxi laws

25/09/2017LGA: TfL Uber decision shows need for ‘urgent reform’ of outdated taxi laws

Councils have this week declared that outdated taxi laws need to be urgently reformed following Transport for London’s (TfL’s) decisi... more >
Councils falling short of preventive care obligations

22/09/2017Councils falling short of preventive care obligations

Councils are failing to meet their obligations to prevent, reduce or delay the need for care as set out in the Care Act 2014. New research p... more >

editor's comment

14/08/2017Time for reflection

A lot has happened since the last edition of PSE was published. In particular, the snap general election delivered an astounding result that many of the pollsters and political experts could not have predicted when Theresa May initially called for it back in April. Chris Painter, Professor Emeritus at Birmingham City University, provides ... read more >

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 — and this needs to happen as soon as po... more > more last word articles >
November too late for pay cap decision, GMB says

25/09/2017November too late for pay cap decision, GMB says

The GMB has criticised the government’s choice to defer the decision of ending the public sector pay cap until the Autumn Budget on 22 November, arguing that this is “too long to wait... more >
How would local government look under a Labour government?

25/09/2017How would local government look under a Labour government?

Few will disagree with the statement that the current landscape of local government is one that has been shaped by seven years of Tory influence. Harsh austerity measures have seen pressures... more >

the raven's daily blog

How would local government look under a Labour government?

25/09/2017How would local government look under a Labour government?

Few will disagree with the statement that the current landscape of local government is one that has been shaped by seven years of Tory influence. Harsh austerity measures have seen pressures on council-run services, as well as the NHS, mount sharply as demand increases. The resurgence of the Labour Party in June’s snap election... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Support for councils following Grenfell

04/09/2017Support for councils following Grenfell

Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), discusses the wider lessons of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and what measures and assess... more >
A quiet revolution

04/09/2017A quiet revolution

Dermot Ryan, programme director at NHS Digital for the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), talks to PSE about the importance of moving to the ... more >
Effective leadership in uncertain times

04/09/2017Effective leadership in uncertain times

Dr David Beech, lecturer in people management at Salford Business School, argues that continuous renewal and progress is fundamental to effective... more >
Refocusing professional development

04/09/2017Refocusing professional development

Graeme McDonald, managing director of Solace, discusses the importance of taking time out to focus on learning, especially in the ever-changing l... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Business, tells PSE’s Luana Salles that health and social care orga... more >
HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

26/06/2017HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

Mark Hall, Chief Assurance Officer at Redcentric, discusses NHS Digital’s project, the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and what b... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >

public sector focus

View all News