Performance action teams from the private
sector are to be sent into four of the councils awarded a zero star
rating. The councils are Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and North
minister Jacqui Smith said that immediate action will be taken to
start improving performance in the zero-rated councils. Chief
inspector of social services, Denise Platt, will meet with all 10
zero-rated councils to agree performance improvement plans and
report back to ministers on any further action needed.
said:”I expect to see improvements by November. If there has been
no improvement, we will consider the use of our powers under the
Local Government Act 1999. These powers include directing a council
to carry out a review of its social services functions or to bring
in external teams.” The performance action teams are to be sent in
“where we don’t believe they have sufficient capacity to turn
themselves around”, she added.
private consultancies were selected after a competitive tender,
which resulted in no appropriate bids from the public sector. The
five will now bid for contracts with the four councils.
Meanwhile, three-star councils
are to benefit from fewer inspections, “less onerous monitoring”,
and total freedom on how to spend grant money. Any scheduled joint
review will go ahead, and an inspection of children’s services will
be carried out if there has not been one in the past four years.
But any other inspections will only be carried out at the council’s
request or with their agreement.
Three-star councils will be able
to spend their share of the £50m performance fund on any area
of social services, whereas councils with zero, one and two stars
must use the money for intermediate care.
year, three-star councils will have complete flexibility over the
spending of their social services grant with no ringfence, because
they have “proved their ability to deliver on the government’s
priorities”, said Smith.
star ratings will be reviewed in the autumn before they are fed
into the overall council star ratings – the comprehensive
performance assessment – but from next year the social services
star ratings will only be published each autumn.