Wokingham children’s services has received £1.1m of one-off funding to put towards social worker recruitment and the implementation of the integrated children’s system (ICS), among other reforms.
The investment, supplied by the council’s reserves, follows a damning report from Ofsted this summer, rating the council’s safeguarding inadequate.
Prue Bray, leader of the LibDem opposition in Wokingham, said the injection of cash was the necessary result of bad management.
“They have to put in the additional funding because they don’t have enough money for children’s services in the budget in the first place,” she said. “This is a classic example of under-budgeting.”
She said that the council faced particular pressures on recruitment because of the announced closure of Reading University’s social work course in September 2011. This has been a major recruitment feeder for Wokingham, she said.
Bray added that while Reading children’s services had raised its salaries to attract recruits, she had heard of no such plans in Wokingham and did not know how the council would use the funding to aid recruitment.
The funding is also set to go towards the implementation of ICS. While Wokingham has had an electronic data recording system, until now, it has not been ICS compliant.
Steve Liddicott, Wokingham’s assistant director of children’s services and chair of the ICS improvement expert panel, said plans for implementation had been in place for next year, but had recently been brought forward to this month.
“The system that we’ve purchased is one of the first to be judged 100% ICS compliant,” he said. “So Wokingham’s gone from being one of the councils furthest behind to one that’s very far ahead.”