Birmingham’s children’s services face government takeover by Christmas

The council's children's services department has been rated inadequate since 2009

Birmingham town hall
Birmingham town hall (Credit: Ethel Davis/Robert Harding/Rex Features)

Birmingham council’s children’s services could be taken over by the Department for Education (DfE) if standards have not improved by the time of its next Ofsted inspection later this month, the government has confirmed.

Birmingham’s children’s services have been rated inadequate since 2009 and there have been a number of high-profile child deaths in the area in recent years, including that of Keanu Williams in 2011.

Ofsted inspectors are due to return to the council at the end of this month.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “We have warned Birmingham that, unless Ofsted identify signs of improvement in their next inspection, we will take further action.”

Birmingham’s press office refused to comment on the DfE’s statement, pointing out that Ofsted had already hinted at the possibility of government intervention following an inspection earlier this year.

However, children’s director Peter Hay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think there’s got to be a role for the city council, because it can bring the relationships and the money and the investment.

“But it can’t do what it’s always done and I absolutely respect that the secretary of state has a very difficult decision because there are no easy answers here.”

Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said: “Social workers and council leaders in Birmingham know very well that they are under pressure to improve the service they provide to their communities, and are currently beginning a long process of attempting to return the authority’s safeguarding services to better health, but this won’t be an overnight job.

“While BASW understands the government’s determination to ensure this happens as soon as possible, we are concerned that the nature of this latest announcement will do little to help struggling morale and those early efforts to introduce urgent reform.”

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