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DfE commissions Essex CC to review Blackpool Council’s ‘inadequate’ children’s services

Essex County Council is to lead a review investigating Blackpool Council’s inadequately-rated children’s social care services and determine whether or not the authority should lose its control over the services.

In January, an Ofsted report found that some of Blackpool’s most vulnerable children were living in “chronic neglect” and rated the children’s services as ‘inadequate’ for the second time in six years, slamming the council’s bosses.

Now the Department for Education (DfE) has appointed a new children’s services commissioner to drive up standards.

Essex County Council and its executive director for children, families and education, Helen Lincoln, has been handed the role and will be tasked with ensuring “immediate improvement” to the children’s social care.

Ultimately, they will be tasked with recommending whether or not Blackpool Council should be allowed to continue running the service.

The DfE published the statutory direction after “carefully considering” the damning Ofsted report, ordering the Blackpool Council to cooperate with the Essex authority and “comply with any instructions” given.

Setting out the role of the commissioner, the statutory direction stated: “There is a presumption in cases of persistent or systemic failure that children’s social care services will be removed from local authority control, for a period of time, in order to bring about sustainable improvement, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.”

The commissioners have until 28 June to report back the government and set out options that could see Blackpool’s children’s social care taken out of the council’s control.

The chief executive of Blackpool Council, Neil Jack, said: “We look forward to working closely with Helen and her team to show the progress that we have already made since the Ofsted inspection, sharing with them the action plan submitted to Ofsted and demonstrating our capacity to improve.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council, which is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, said it was “really pleased” to be asked by the department to work alongside leaders and staff at Blackpool, and was “keen to share best practice.”

 Image credit - CraigRJD


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