Cameron tells councils: ‘transform failing children’s services or have them taken over’

Prime Minister to use keynote speech to signal “more ambitious” programme of social work reforms

Photo: Tim Rooke/Rex

Councils who fail to ‘transform’ under-performing child protection services will have them taken over by external providers, David Cameron will say today.

In a speech setting out the government’s priorities for the Autumn spending review, in which plans to make £20bn of savings will be outlined, the prime minister will cite children in care and prisons as two “standout areas for reform” that are being damaged by a “tolerance of state failure”.

Cameron will say that change is required, whether “by breaking state monopolies, bringing in new providers or allowing new ways of doing things”. He will also commit to what Downing Street describes as “a more ambitious reform of social services and child protection” to be delivered by government departments, councils and charities.

“There will be a clear message to any local authority failing its children: transform the way you provide services, or those services will be taken over by non-profit trusts,” a Number 10 statement ahead of the speech said.

The government has already stripped some councils of responsibility for their children’s services in the wake of damaging Ofsted inspection reports.

Doncaster’s child protection services have been run by an independent not-for-profit company since last October and the government has told Slough council that responsibility for its children’s services will be handed to an independent trust. Improvement notices issued by the Department for Education to Somerset and West Berkshire councils have warned that a failure to address failings could see the government use its statutory to powers to dictate how children’s services are run.

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14 Responses to Cameron tells councils: ‘transform failing children’s services or have them taken over’

  1. Louisa September 13, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    Is this man for real. If only it were as simple as “transforming” failing services. In order to do that we need an adequate number of staff, manageable caseloads and services to support the complex needs of the families we work with. In order for those things to be achieved councils need adequate funding to provide quality services to vulnerable children and families. As a social worker I do not feel I’m providing a quality service to my families and it’s not through the want of trying. It it so frustrating that there seems to be aack of recognition regarding the pressures we face on a daily bases which impact on our own family life and wellbeing.

  2. Andrew Tempest September 14, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    When they are still failing will they be taken over by a different company?

  3. Fred September 14, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Oh he is for real alright. He has slashed local authority budgets several times (and the worst is yet to come) spending the loot on tax breaks for the bankers (the ones who caused the finamncial crisis) who fund the Conservative Party.

    When the local authorities struggle with their meagre resouirces, he then threatens to hand over child care services to his city buddies or other grasping oafs in the private sector.

    With evidence coming in about the rising death toll in suicides of disabled people who have had their benefits snatched away, the reality of this government’s policies are only too real.

  4. Mikey September 16, 2015 at 4:01 am #

    About time someone was accountable. Many social service offices and workers get away with far too much. Well overdue for a shakeup.

    • Nell September 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Mikey you have probably not tried to balance life and death decisions within a shrinking budget and disappearing resources to say nothing of the current pressure to take more cases whilst being led to believe that you are there to satisfy Ofsted rather than children. I guess you are not aware of the level of bureaucracy which dominates over time spent with children in need and the craze for creating blame for social workers wherever there is a crime committed by a child’s carers. LUCKY YOU.

      • Andy September 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

        I work in childrens services and my view is that we are simply not good enough.. our children in this country that are looked after or experience are continue to fail.. i hear they are complex kids all the time.. what about the fact that we are their corperate parents so if they, we have failed.. not saying mr cameron is right but current public sector seems to be inneffective to me!

    • michelle September 16, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

      Hey Mikey

      When you actually have something useful to say please do share otherwise keep your nonsensical opinion to yourself!!!!

  5. anon September 16, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Andy it’s not the social workers who are not good enough but the poor private services commissioned by the majority of local authorities. David Cameron and his ilk are running children’s services into the ground for one reason only and that is to sell them off to his city pals who in turn will make millions out of vulnerable abused children. Many people forget the children groomed and sexually abused in Rochdale and Rotherham were living in residential care provided by the private sector, didn’t see them in the news or threatend with prison

    This government has no intetest in the children or families we work with. What will be interesting is what will happen when the private sector are assessed as being unfit for purpose, and inadequate, more than likely be handed back like Serco & Action for Children in Walsall

  6. Jenny September 17, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    It saddens me to read comments by people like Mikey and Andy condoning politicians who are using social workers and the public sector as political footballs. The social work profession has been denigrated by the culture of timescales and statistics which now dominates the workplace. Cameron is clearly no friend to social workers, given his other public comments about the profession. Infighting within the profession is not going to make us better at protecting children or providing a high quality service.

  7. Allison September 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    The reason why there is a high number of children in care or at risk is due to the fact that services have been stripped back to the bones. As a social worker my case load is far to high, this amounts to a high turnover of quality staff who leave due to mental health issues themselves brought on by the job and lack of supervision due to managers not having the time due to their work load. Our vulnerable young people have a six month waiting list for mental health services, housing waiting lists are extreme, youth services almost non existent, drug and alcohol services stripped…This has all been done for a reason..to privatise..when they came into power we knew this would happen..shame on you Cameron. .you will lose people who put everything, everyday, to safeguard children. .because they are not only qualified..They care…

  8. David Mortimer September 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Privatizing who looks after children removes the safeguards which were put in place to protect them.

  9. David Mortimer September 17, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    Privatizing who looks after children removes the safeguards which were put in place to protect them. Another problem with privatizing who look’s after children is that no individual can be held personally accountable under corporate law even if a child dies. To avoid being found guilty of corporate manslaughter they just need to follow the legal guidance issued by the Law Commission which was “I did not intend on that person dying”. The problem with UK child protection policies is they are not evidence based. There is no specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect & hold information on child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies.

  10. Hanster September 17, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    A whole new low for the conservatives – it seems nothing is off limits!!

  11. Hanster September 17, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

    A whole new low for the Conservatives – clearly you can make profit off anything these days – nothing is too risky or just outright immoral! Sad state of affairs…