Chil­dren’s wel­fare given a £9m boost

Cash set to im­prove ser­vices and put right ‘in­ad­e­quate’ stan­dards

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Laura Mowat laura.mowat@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

NINE mil­lion pounds will be pumped into Buck­ing­hamshire’s chil­dren’s ser­vices to rec­tify the ‘in­ad­e­quate’ grade the county was given by in­de­pen­dent in­spec­tors Of­sted.

Fol­low­ing Of­sted’s damn­ing re­port in Au­gust this year, Bucks County Coun­cil has writ­ten an im­prove­ment plan for its chil­dren’s ser­vices port­fo­lio.

The county coun­cil’s chil­dren’s ser­vices are de­signed to safe­guard and pro­vide for vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

The Of­sted re­port crit­i­cised the way in which the county deals with chil­dren who need help and pro­tec­tion, how it looks after chil­dren and its lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance.

It was de­cided at a cab­i­net meet­ing on Mon­day that the coun­cil would re­lease an ad­di­tional £1.64m from its gen­eral re­serves and £1.73m would be given in the fu­ture to de­liver the im­prove­ment plan.

The coun­cil has al­ready agreed to give £4.8m from the coun­cil’s re­serves and £1m from the con­tin­gency bud­get.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for chil­dren’s ser­vices An­gela Macpher­son re­signed last week cit­ing per­sonal rea­sons, and Mike Ap­p­le­yard has now taken the role as act­ing cab­i­net mem­ber.

Speak­ing to the Ad­ver­tiser after the meet­ing, Mr Ap­p­le­yard said: “One of the main is­sues that we have is that there are not enough so­cial work­ers to go around.

“Peo­ple pre­fer to work in London where they can get a few ex­tra thou­sand pounds. We need to ad­dress it; one thing that we will start to do is ask so­cial work­ers to stay here for two years in re­turn for more money.

“We have got to go out and re­cruit peo­ple and that costs money. We have got to look at fast track­ing so­cial work­ers, men­tor­ing and spe­cial train­ing.”

The funds will also go to­wards im­prove­ment in man­age­ment of the chil­dren’s ser­vices, im­prov­ing the ser­vice for chil­dren in care and man­ag­ing re­fer­rals more ef­fec­tively.

Mr Ap­p­le­yard said: “We have had an in­crease in the num­ber of re­fer­rals and ev­ery one of them needs in­ves­ti­gat­ing. The ex­tra re­fer­rals have got to be funded some­how.”

The coun­cil hopes to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion and bring the chil­dren’s ser­vices up to stan­dard within two years. There will be a an Of­sted em­ployee based at the county coun­cil to over­look the im­prove­ments.

Is the coun­cil cor­rect to spend this money on chil­dren’s ser­vices? Let us know what you think – email our let­ters page at buck­snews@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk.

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