Children’s services in Rotherham are to remain under the control of commissioners, even though some other services are being returned to the council’s management, because there are still “significant challenges to overcome” before the authority regains public confidence and trust.
Communities secretary Greg Clark announced yesterday that functions such as housing, leisure, education and financial services would be returned to council control, but children’s services will remain under the power of commissioners, led by Sir Derek Myers. They were appointed in 2015 after a damning report by Louise Casey, director general of the Troubled Families Programme, found senior staff were either incapable of or unwilling to solve problems.
“In the last 11 months, Rotherham has made improvements and so I have proposed to transfer control over some functions back from the commissioners to democratically-elected councillors,” Clark said.
The decision is in line with a report made by commissioners in November last year. Elsewhere in that report, commissioners warned that the council’s finances were “dire”.
“The council’s budget position was understated because prior to the Commissioners arriving, the council had hoped that overspending on children’s placements might be balanced out by underspending elsewhere in children’s services. This has proved a false expectation and indeed, together with the overrunning in adult social care budget, has contributed to an overall projected overspend for the year of £12 million,” it said.
It also highlighted “fundamental weaknesses” in the council’s fostering and adoption services and residential homes, while it also said the social care service was “too reliant on interim social workers and managers”.