The poorly-rated social services department of Swindon Council
is to be taken over by managers from Kent Council in an effort to
bring it up to scratch, writes David
Under the deal, Swindon will pay Kent £3.66 million over
three years to help manage its ailing social services in a unique
arrangement that has received £1 million backing from the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).
Kent will supply senior officers who will oversee support,
training and staff development, while Swindon continues the
day-to-day running of the department.
Swindon Council leader Mike Bawden put a brave face on the
takeover and denied it was a reflection of failure.
“It’s no secret that 18 months ago we had real
problems with the way our social services department was
run,” he said. “Since then we have made enormous
progress and the new management team has addressed a huge number of
the problems. However, there is still much to do and the pace of
change is not fast enough, therefore we decided we needed to do
Ian Dobie, Swindon’s lead member for social services,
added: “We could have bought in highly paid consultants from
the private sector to help us provide better services. However,
where better to turn than to a council that is rated as excellent
and has three-stars for its social services?”
Jerry Oliver, Swindon’s director of social services, went
on a 12-month secondment in June to Swindon primary care trust in
the role of integration and immediate project leader. No official
reason for his secondment was given by the council and a
spokesperson said that “in theory” he should return at
the end of his secondment.
Kent Council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said it was looking to
“help make Swindon social services something to be very proud
“We are very pleased to be the first council in the
country to lead this new, systematic, locally driven approach to
collaboration between councils,” he added.