England’s chief inspector of social services reprimanded social
services departments for “chasing performance indicators” instead
of improving front-line services.
At the launch of the latest English and Welsh annual joint review
reports, Denise Platt said: “Don’t slavishly pursue performance
indicators. If people are focusing on hitting a performance
indicator on 1 April, they will hit it and duck under it.”
Platt said the way to improve services was to “capitalise on the
experience at the front line and use the ideas of front-line
Joint reviews director John Bolton said some local authorities were
spending a lot of time chasing performance indicators but that “on
the ground services do not reflect what the performance indicators
seem to suggest”.
Bolton emphasised that “getting the basics right” at the front line
should be the top priority for social services, adding that
structural changes rarely delivered desired outcomes on their
Hugh Gardner, Swansea’s director of social services, said the
overview report of joint reviews in Wales showed that services were
not improving and questioned whether local government in the
principality was dealing effectively with the social care
He said there was too much distance between the unitary
authorities’ strategic agendas and the “front-end” agenda of
service delivery. He said this contrasted with the health service,
where clinicians were involved right to the top.
Graham Williams, chief social services inspector for Wales, said
local government reorganisation in Wales in the mid-1990s had had
an horrendous impact, but social services departments could not
keep “using it as an excuse” for poor services.
Williams repeated warnings about relying on structural change to
improve services. “Structures can enable or disable, but they do
not solve anything,” he said.