By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.
Social workers ordered to reach for their
More than 60 per cent of social work departments in England
provide a poor service to vulnerable people, according to the
Ten councils were classed as “bad” and awarded no stars in the
first star rating performance tables for the country’s 150
social services departments. A further 82 were given just one star
– a performance level described as disappointing.
Private sector managers are being drafted into four of the worst
social work departments to work alongside the management in place.
Birmingham, Coventry, Walsall and North East Lincolnshire have been
given six months to improve or face having their entire social work
departments taken over by a team of external managers.
Haringey council narrowly escaped having a hit squad sent in,
even though it was awarded a zero rating. Chief inspector of social
services Denise Platt said she was in discussions with Haringey,
and would await the publication of the Laming inquiry into the
Victoria Climbie case before taking further action.
Eight social services departments achieved the top rating, and
50 were awarded two stars, an achievement described as
Health minister Jacqui Smith said the new system would allow
people to tell at a glance how their local council was performing,
as well as showing improvement or deterioration over time.
Source:- The Times Thursday 30 May page 10
Darling takes control of transport
Work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling took over a slimmed
down transport department from Stephen Byers yesterday as Tony
Blair announced a ministerial reshuffle.
Following Stephen Byers’ departure, Blair passed over the
control of congestion on the roads and problems with the railways
and air control to Darling.
Darling’s old job went to Andrew Smith, whose previous
role as chief treasury secretary was taken by Paul Boateng, who
becomes the first black British cabinet member.
David Miliband become schools standards minister and David
Lammy, Britain’s youngest MP at 29, becomes junior health
Lord Falconer will take responsibility of criminal justice to
remove some of the pressure from David Blunkett. Deputy prime
minister John Prescott loses his role as co-ordinator and progress
chaser, but takes on policy responsibilities including local
government, the regions, housing, planning, urban renewal and
Source:- The Independent Thursday 30 May page
Foreign workers’ schemes to be free of white
Thousands more young black people, Asians and eastern Europeans
could be given the opportunity to work in Britain for up to two
years under government proposals.
Two temporary employment schemes were extended yesterday in a
home office consultation paper as new asylum statistics showed
there are 6,000 asylum applications a month and 1,000 failed
applicants are removed.
Home secretary David Blunkett said: “The issues around seasonal
workers and holiday schemes is a stepping stone to a more ambitious
project that needs to be linked to tackling illegal working.”
Thousands of Commonwealth citizens aged between 17 and 27
currently enter Britain for a two-year working holiday, but the
scheme has been found to be biased towards young white people from
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.
Under the new proposals to expand the working holiday
makers’ scheme, a separate system will be set up for young
people from countries such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia,
Hungary and Lithuania, which are due to join the European Union in
Ministers believe the scheme will reduce illegal working.
Source:- The Times Thursday 30 May page 8
Immigrant smuggling crackdown
Ten people, who are suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants,
have been arrested in a Europe-wide crackdown.
Police in a dozen countries searched 30,000 containers at ports
and railway and roadside checkpoints over three days last week, as
part of the crackdown co-ordinated by Europol. Two hundred illegal
immigrants were found.
Police said the suspects, arrested during operations in Belgium,
Italy, and France, could lead them to the controllers of the
Source:- The Times Thursday 30 May page 8
Freed prisoners ‘to get
Released prisoners could receive extra cash and be eligible for
housing benefit while in prison if sentenced to six months or
The report from the social exclusion unit is aimed at reducing
the number of prisoners who go on to re-offend immediately after
release. It suggests the amount of money given to prisoners on
release should rise from £40 to £100.
The social exclusion unit claims that prisoners suffer financial
hardship on release.
Source:- Daily Telegraph Thursday 30 May page 8
New director of social work for Glasgow
Ronnie O’Connor is to leave his post of director of social
work for Glasgow council, moving to take over education in a
re-shuffle of the directorate.
The move, created by the early retirement of Ken Corsar,
director of education, sees David Comley move from his post of
director of housing to become acting director of social work and
homelessness. The council said the major shake-up was to take
account of the impending transfer of the city’s housing stock
to Glasgow Housing Association and government-led changes to
education and social work.
Source:- The Herald Thursday 30 May page 9
The Press Complaints Commission has dismissed criticism of a
South Wales Echo investigation into children’s homes in
Cardiff council had complained that the newspaper had breached
the PCCs code of conduct on February 27 this year, when it
published a story looking at five local authority homes.
The story was based on reports from the council’s own inspection
unit and revealed that the homes were experiencing difficulties due
to poor funding and short staffing.
Source:- South Wales Echo Wednesday 29 May page 11
Councils must do more for the disabled
Two south Wales councils have been told to improve their
services for disabled people
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) criticises Monmouthshire
and Newport councils over the services that they provide in a new
The DRC found that both councils failed to provide
disabled-friendly council offices and buildings, and fell short in
the number of disabled people they employ, and that they will need
to make ‘significant improvements’ to meet the standards that will
be required by 2004.
But the report does praise both councils for work done to
improve disabled access with both having adapted more than 80 per
cent of pedestrian crossings for use by disabled people.
Source:- South Wales Argus Wednesday 29 May page 6
Closure-threatened care home to become respite centre
for disabled people
A care home threatened with closure is to become one of
Britain’s leading respite centres for disabled people.
The Dan-y-Graig centre at Newton, near Bridgend, was earmarked
for closure by the local authority that could not afford the
running costs of £400,000 a year.
But it was saved at the 11th hour by an intervention from the
John Grooms charity, and it will now be refurbished to create a
state-of-the-art respite centre for disabled people.
Detailed proposals for the new centre will be unveiled next
month by Jane Hutt, Welsh assembly minister for health and social
Source:- Western Mail Thursday 30 May page 8