services and local government leaders have criticised as
"disappointing" health secretary Alan Milburn’s decision to name and
shame badly performing councils on the same day as launching the first ever
national recruitment campaign for social workers.
Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social
Services said the announcement reinforced an "unjust negative image"
at a time when social services were "already beleaguered" and the
majority of departments were improving.
sector union Unison immediately accused Milburn of missing a "golden
opportunity" to boost the image and reputation of social services and
warned that social services needed support, "not threatening with a big
his speech to the National Social Services Conference, Milburn moved swiftly
from the launch of the £2m three-year recruitment campaign intended to boost
the profession’s public image to this year’s performance indicator results and
the names of England’s 10 worst performing councils.
also announced changes to the way councils will be assessed. From next year,
each council will receive a "star rating" for its overall social
services performance, based on performance data, information from inspections
and ongoing monitoring for a "more rounded" assessment.
best performers will earn themselves greater local freedom, Milburn promised.
Rewards could include a lighter touch inspection regime, with the possibility
of non-children’s services being inspected only every five years; the removal
of conditions attached to special grants; and freedom to spend their share of
the new £50m performance fund as they see fit.
poorly performing councils will be required to meet with the Social Services
Inspectorate’s chief inspector to agree an action plan for improvement, and
councils on special measures who fail to improve services may face further
Department of Health will also explore how expertise from the voluntary,
statutory or independent sectors could be used to turn around performance where
social services are persistently failing, and how top performing councils might
be encouraged to take over responsibility for running the worst performers.
Richmond on Thames
Windsor & Maidenhead
This week’s web survey asks: Have Alan Milburn’s hard-hitting criticisms of
social services damaged morale in your agency? To register your vote visit www.community-care.co.uk
week’s question, which was debated at the National Social Services Conference,
asked whether the private sector’s role in the future provision of care should
be extended, as proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. A majority of 57 per
cent said "no", with 43 per cent saying they believed the private
sector should play a fuller part in service delivery.