Council calls in £450k experts following scathing Ofsted report

Council calls in £450k experts following scathing Ofsted report

CASH-strapped Kirklees Council is spending nearly half-a-million pounds on a hit-squad of social workers after its children’s services received a damning report.

Ofsted have branded Kirklees Council’s Children’s Services as inadequate – its lowest rating.

It said vulnerable children are being put at risk “due to serious and widespread failures which result in some children not being protected or having their needs met.”

On Monday the council’s cabinet rubber-stamped almost £450,000 to bring in a team of expert social workers for six months.

Kirklees has also called in a government troubleshooter to oversee the department.

Eleanor Brazil will become Children’s Commissioner and is due to meet key council staff next week.

She will not be responsible for the day-to-day operations but will report back to the Department for Education.

Her feedback will determine whether Kirklees can keep running children’s services or sees it outsourced to private contractors.

Mrs Brazil has dealt with other failing services, most recently Sandwell Council near Birmingham. She was also brought into Haringey Council following the Baby P scandal.

In a 38-page report, Ofsted said Kirklees is failing in a number of areas.

It stated: “Inspectors identified concerns in many of the cases that they scrutinised, due to inadequate actions currently being taken by the local authority to safeguard and promote children’s welfare.”

In August 2015, concerns were raised by the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board which prompted chief executive Adrian Lythgo to launch an independent review.

Mr Lythgo has announced that he will be leaving his post in February.

There has been no suggestion that his departure is linked to the failings in this department.

Some 226 cases were reviewed which found “widespread poor practice”, including some where urgent action was required to keep children safe.

Ofsted witnessed “delays in removing from home children who were not safe and poor court work that failed to provide the evidence to ensure that children at risk of significant harm were then placed in safe environments.”Kirklees logo

A number of senior figures in Kirklees children’s services have been replaced. Sarah Callaghan took over as director for children and young people in April 2016.

She said: “We have been clear for several months that serious issues needed to be addressed.” She said staff were already working on improving standards and were committed to the task.

Coun Erin Hill, cabinet member for family support and child protection, described the judgment as “disappointing”.

“I understand that this is concerning for all residents of Kirklees,” she said.

“Keeping children safe, and helping them lead healthy and happy lives, is a fundamental priority for this administration and I will make sure that the recommendations Ofsted made are taken into account.”

Share this post