UK Family Law Reform

Free information index

Council children's services branded inadequate by Ofsted

By Matthew Bates

CHILDREN'S services at Coventry City Council are inadequate, Ofsted has ruled.

A three-week inspection found children are being left at risk of harm because of delays in social care and high caseloads.

Council bosses pledged to make a rapid improvement in services and said the inspection included positives they could build on.

An extra £5.6m will now be pumped into the service after being set aside by finance chiefs on the eve of the inspection.

The service has been under the spotlight since the death of four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was murdered by his mother and step-father in March 2012.

A serious case review found the council and other agencies had failed to do enough to protect him.

Coun George Duggins, cabinet member for children, said: "There is no hiding from the fact that the report’s overall findings are disappointing but many of the problems we face, particularly in the front line of children social care, is down to the fact of the unprecedented volume of work which continues to increase."

A rise in the number of social work teams has failed to halt a 46 per cent increase in workloads over the last two years.

Staff were dealing with over 4,500 children at the end of February, almost 1,500 more compared to March 2013. The number of children in care has also risen to 633.

Other concerns included leaders and managers failing to tackle key weaknesses and unreliable information being passed down to staff.

Bosses had already set up an improvement board to help tackle issues raised in readiness for a critical report.

The local safeguarding children's board, which commissioned the Pelka serious case review, has also been branded inadequate.