The Peterborough Evening Telegraph

£1m helps children’s services turnaround

- By ADAM UREN adam.uren@peterborou­

SIGNIFICAN­T progress has been made in turning around the city’s ailing children’s social care system - helped in part by a £1 million cash injection.

Managerial and system failings which led to a damning Ofsted report for Peterborou­gh City Council’s children’s services department in September have been wiped out by a series of changes implemente­d since the arrival of new interim children’s services head Malcolm Newsam at the end of last year.

This has been aided by an extra £1 million added to the department­al budget which has allowed 23 extra temporary social workers to be taken on to drive down caseloads.

Twenty-five permanent workers are also set to be taken on in the coming months.

The extra staff have helped reduce the number of ‘open’ cases from 724 in November to 296 last week – described as an acceptable figure for a city the size of Peterborou­gh.

Meanwhile, the number of initial assessment­s made within the 10-day target has been reduced from 192 to none in the same period.

Changes to the management team have also been made.

Up to seven temporary and permanent managers left following Mr Newsam’s arrival, and a new senior team was brought in.

Mr Newsam said that although a lot of focus was placed on children’s services following the damning Ofsted report in September – in which seven out of nine safeguardi­ng categories were deemed to be failing and vulnerable children put at risk – the department had actually been in the doldrums for a decade.

He said: “There have been longstandi­ng difficulti­es in the department. I’ve found that there is a history of the council receiving a bad inspection report, improving a little afterwards, before going back to the way it was.

“We are making very good progress and achieved a tremendous amount in the last three months. We are not treating the symptoms of the failures but the root causes and we are determined to put in place a permanent and sustainabl­e improvemen­t.”

In the wake of the improvemen­ts, Mr Newsam is now looking to a future where the council can have a top-quality children’s social care system which provides a wider range of services.

This will be further helped by a new, market-leading computer system called Liquidlogi­c which will go online on April 5, replacing an outdated reporting system.

Mr Newsam has also spoken of moving away from the “knee-jerk” reaction sometimes associated with social care, to one which is preventati­ve.

He said: “We want to have preventati­ve services which keep families together and move away from the blue flashing light crisis response.”

Peterborou­gh MP Stewart Jackson added: “I persuaded the Government to give the city council a chance to improve and I’m very pleased the council has taken that chance and is making real progress.”

 ??  ?? TURNAROUND: Malcolm Newsam has overseen major changes in children’s services.
TURNAROUND: Malcolm Newsam has overseen major changes in children’s services.
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