New action plan for children’s services
Department overspent £700k after poor review
AN OVERSPEND of more than £700,000 in children’s services which followed its ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted is being countered with a recovery plan.
Cabinet member for the beleaguered department, Councillor Lin Hazell, addressed her colleagues during a budget scrutiny committee at County Hall in Aylesbury.
Mrs Hazell said the £717,000 overspending of the budget was because of overheads in the management structure, spending on agency staff and spending on asylum seeker related costs for unaccompanied children.
She told the meeting last Thursday that more needs to be done in
Lin Hazell, chairman of the health and adult social care select committee avoiding agencies, quickening the foster process and recruiting social workers, adding: “We are managing an extremely volatile budget where we have more unknowns than knowns.
“It is a very difficult scenario that we find ourselves in.
“All I can say is we need to do a lot more work on how we deliver things in general.
“We certainly need more foster carers so there is a huge recruitment process going on.
“In-house foster carers are actually more economical than independent agencies. Huge work needs to be done to increase our foster care base.
“We certainly need to be slicker when we have people come forward to be a foster parent.
“The trouble is, it’s such an important and sensitive area we have to get the right matches [of children to carers] going through and that is sometimes the thing that delays the process.
“We can argue we are being too risk averse but if we get it wrong anywhere along the line we have big problems, we have newspaper headlines.”
She said avoiding a ‘tortuous process’ and the council ‘tying itself up with red tape’ was important to attract potential carers.
She said the department has to review rates of pay and terms and conditions to improve recruitment among social workers.
Mrs Hazell replaced Angela Macpherson after she resigned due to ‘personal reasons’ in November.
Mrs Hazell said the recovery plan which involves cutting agency staff through increasing recruitment began in November and needs more time to show results.
Scouts, guides and young farmers have signed up to the project, as well as local youth clubs, which will take place in the spring.
The project comprises 34 threehour sessions at 10 green spots. More than 20 youth groups are involved and youngsters between the ages of