Surrey on the up after two one-star ratings, says Ian Davey

Surrey Council has made good progress in adult social care since being assessed as a one-star authority last year for the second year running, its interim director has said.

Ian Davey made the claim in an interview with Community Care after Surrey announced it had appointed Isle of Wight director Sarah Mitchell as his permanent successor.

Uncertain prospects

The Commission for Social Care Inspection gave Surrey a one-star rating for 2007-8 in the annual performance assessment published last November, saying it had delivered “adequate” service outcomes and had “uncertain” prospects for improvement.

Though the rating referred to the performance year which ended in March 2008, the council received an equivalent judgement in a CSCI inspection last July.

However, Davey said Surrey had made good progress on several of the problem areas identified by CSCI since he took over as interim director last June.

Direct payments up

Direct payment take-up rates – described as “significantly” below other councils –  had improved, he said, and Surrey had addressed CSCI’s criticisms that its adult safeguarding board lacked strong leadership and formal agreements between partner agencies.

Davey’s appointment heralded the dismantling of Surrey’s pioneering families directorate – set up in 2006 to merge children’s and adults’ services. During the lifetime of the directorate, the county, rated as three stars for adult care in 2005, saw its performance dip in both service areas.

In its report on last year’s inspection, CSCI praised Davey’s appointment, alongside a new head of service in adult services, as a “positive step that raised the profile and leadership of adult social care”.

Management strengthened

Davey said: “The management capacity has been significantly increased here in accordance with what we needed to do to improve performance.” 

Although he would not comment on the level of priority given to adult social care under the families directorate – which CSCI implicitly criticised – he said the council “did acknowledge to the CSCI that there was a capacity issue”.

Davey said his target was for Surrey to be rated as “good” for adult care outcomes with “promising” capacity to improve for the 2008-9 performance year, which concludes at the end of March, just after Mitchell takes over.

On her success in improving Isle of Wight Council from two to three stars this year, he said: “Performance improvement and getting out of that one-star status was seen as a top priority for the new director. Sarah convincingly demonstrated she’s got a track record in this area.”

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