Just two out of 10 social services departments in England that
have had performance action teams working with them this year have
improved their star rating, it was revealed this week.
The 2004 star ratings, published by the Commission for Social
Care Inspection, show that Coventry and Waltham Forest councils are
the only local authorities that have had teams and improved on
their 2003 ratings.
Coventry rose from one to two stars, while Waltham Forest went
up from zero to one.
Oldham, Swindon, Bedfordshire, and Plymouth all had PATs but
failed to move from their 2003 rating of zero stars. Haringey,
Lambeth, Walsall and Windsor & Maidenhead stayed at one
Veronica Jackson, executive director of social services and
health at Oldham Council, said that the authority’s failure
to move up to one star was not linked to the PAT.
She said that it was caused by negative findings from a
children’s services inspection that took place in September
2003 but was not published until December, a month after last
year’s ratings were released. Therefore it fed into its 2004
Oldham’s PAT did not begin work until January 2004.
Overall, the ratings show that social services departments have
improved, with 27 going up by one star and 11 going down. Figures
also show that 20 councils achieved three stars compared with 16 in
Terry Rich, director of social services and housing at Bromley
Council, which went up from zero to one star, said a key part of
the council’s success was getting staff to understand the
connection between what they were doing on the ground and what the
performance indicator was measuring.
“We are linking what people do on the ground to those indicators
and making them relative,” he said.
Councillor Martin Beecroft, cabinet member for independent
living at Ealing Council, which fell from one to zero stars
together with the Isles of Scilly, said that inspectors had found
no change in the quality of services to adults and children in
Ealing since last year’s inspection. However, he added that
inspectors had not accepted that the council had the capacity to
continue making improvements to services.