The Local Government Association has stepped in to address adult safeguarding failings at Wirral Council by setting up a board to drive improvement.
The establishment of Wirral Improvement Board follows a damning independent review into historic adult social services failings at the council including overcharging of clients with learning disabilities, poor contract management of supported living providers and failure to respond to whistleblowing.
The board, which will meet monthly and includes Wirral councillors and external advisers, will identify priorities for improvement and implement an action plan, with input from the Care Quality Commission.
The independent review, by Anna Klonowski, concluded that the council had still failed to embed a culture that responded to whistleblowing and its previous contract management failings had put vulnerable adults at greater risk.
Following the report’s publication last month, Wirral Council agreed to implement all of Klonowski’s recommendations; the matter was then raised by local MP Esther McVey at prime minister’s questions last week, leading David Cameron to promise that ministers would look into the issues raised.
The establishment of the board – a joint initiative between the council and the LGA – underscores the LGA’s increased responsibilities for promoting improvement in local authorities, particularly in adult social services, which are no longer assessed annually by the CQC.
A CQC inspection in May 2010 found that Wirral Council was performing poorly at safeguarding adults and that it had poor capacity to improve.
“The LGA is committed to working in partnership with Wirral Council to tackle the issues which have been raised about adult safeguarding and corporate governance,” said improvement board chair Dr Gill Taylor, the LGA’s principal adviser for the North West. “The Wirral Improvement Board is now taking immediate steps to identify the key priorities moving forward and to implement a plan of action.”
The move was welcomed by Wirral Council leader Steve Foulkes, who said: “We are grateful to the LGA for their support and hope [the creation of the board] demonstrates our commitment to progress and becoming a stronger authority.”
Besides Taylor and Foulkes, the board also includes the council’s deputy leader, the leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups and a group of cross-party members from other authorities.
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