On 14th December 2015 the BBC reported that the prime minister has announced measures to make it easier for failing social services departments to be taken over. If a local authority is found to be inadequate following an Ofsted inspection then it will be given six months to improve or it will be taken over by a high-performing council or charity and a new “commissioner” will be appointed and experts in child protection sent in. Several failing councils are already run by trusts but the new powers will see the timetable shortened and formalised.
The Government is intending to send experts in to three councils. Sunderland Children’s Services will become a voluntary trust and experts will be sent in to run the department, after inspectors from the care watchdog Ofsted found “serious and widespread” failings including one child being seriously hurt by a parent and another child dying. However, the BBC report that eleven months after Doncaster Children’s Services was taken over by an independent trust, it is still deemed to be failing.
There is concern that the cuts to government services mean that standards can’t be achieved and better funding and reduced caseloads for social workers would be more effective than changing the structure of a department.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC that “Ofsted will go in and inspect more quickly, particularly if there are reports either of inadequacies in the way that the department is being run or we, obviously, receive intelligence from whistle-blowers”.
You can find details about your local authority by visiting the Ofsted website
If you have concerns about children’s services becoming involved with your family please contact our dedicated care solicitors on 0161 224 3311.