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Walsall offers ‘raw deal’ say inspectors

The Audit Commission and Social Services
Inspectorate have issued a damning joint review of Walsall social
services. The report blames frequent changes of direction and a
preoccupation with immediate political concerns for the council’s
poor performance.

John
Bolton, director of joint reviews, said: “Local people are getting
a raw deal. As well as changes on the front line, there is a great
need for a more strategic and inclusive way forward.”

The
review found that there are too few preventive services for
children while the quality and flexibility of community support for
adults needs improving.

“There
are serious concerns about the overall availability of services for
many user groups and the inflexible nature of existing service
models,” says the report.

It
highlights an over-reliance on traditional, and often expensive,
residential, nursing and other home-based case.

There
are unacceptable variations in caseloads, systems and practices
between teams, particularly in children’s services where a high
number of cases have not been allocated to social
workers.

Social
services director Don Phillips, who had already announced that he
is taking redundancy, refused to accept all the report’s
conclusions.

But he
acknowledged that “the report clearly challenges us to modernise
services and shift the balance of power towards service users and
carers”.

A
draft three-year improvement plan is going out for consultation in
the next six weeks. Improvements are anticipated within the first
year.

 

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