Concerted efforts for children’s care
£5.8m to address service ‘weaknesses’
EMERGENCY funds are to be released to address ‘sobering’ failings in children’s social care at Bucks County Council (BCC).
In August, Ofsted labelled the service as ‘inadequate’, and the matter was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
Between 2012/13 and 2013/14, there was an unprecedented rise in demand for services – an increase of 70 per cent in referrals to children’s social care and of about 14 per cent in the number of young people coming into the care of the authority.
Councillor Martin Tett, leader of BCC, said: “Those are phenomenal levels of increase and resulted in many of our staff having unacceptable workloads.”
BCC will be releasing nearly £6million to improve the service that it provides, which will be mainly used to increase staffing.
Cabinet member for children’s services, councillor Angela Macpherson, said: “We need to address demand and caseloads. Although we have taken measures to address some of these issues, Ofsted arrived for their inspection while we were in the middle of these changes. They recognised that there was work in progress but identified weakness.”
The cabinet will be releasing £1m from its contingency fund and £4.8m from reserves for the portfolio.
Councillor Peter Hardy said: “The Ofsted report was very sobering on all members of this council and we have to react to it to get it right.”
BCC set up a task and finish group in February this year to help tackle the problems.
Councillor Tricia Birchley said: “It is my absolute priority to safeguard our children. Since the Baby P problem, there has been an explosion of children in care.”
BCC stated that there had been problems with recruiting permanent, experienced social workers, which resulted in an unmanageable workload and a high turnover of staff.
Sue Imbriano, director of children’s services, said: “The report shows the commitment, dedication and the knowledge of children that our staff have; that is recorded as a strength. There is an awful lot of loyalty and goodwill and staff wanting to move forward.”
The council has 70 days to submit detailed improvement plans to Ofsted, which are currently being developed. A RESIDENTIAL home has had its second support group for unpaid family carers.
Sunrise Senior Living, in Station Road, Beaconsfield, hosted the meeting with Carers Bucks on Friday last week.
Carers Bucks is an independent charity supporting family carers in Buckinghamshire.
The support group was launched in June and meets regularly in the upstairs lounge at Sunrise.
Currently, one in eight adults in the UK are carers and three in five of us will become a carer at some point in our lives.
The support group gives local carers the chance to meet people in similar situations and provides a forum to exchange views and experiences.
A programme of talks is also planned for the meetings, which are held on the first Friday of each month, between 1.30pm and 3.30pm.
All local family carers are welcome to attend. Call 0300 777 2722.
GATHERING: Carers Bucks Beaconsfield Support Group meeting at Sunrise Senior Living, led by Val Dommett (left), health liaison worker