Undercover documentary accelerated move to hand Birmingham children’s services to trust, leaked email reveals

A leaked email sent by the Cabinet Member for Children's Services says the Dispatches documentary brought forward announcement by months

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Photo: Stuart Black/Robert Harding/RexShuttershock

An upcoming undercover documentary accelerated a move to shift Birmingham children’s services from council control to an independent trust, a leaked email reveals.

In an email to councillors – seen by Community Care – Brigid Jones, Birmingham’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “In light of an upcoming Dispatches documentary about Birmingham children’s services, which will air on Channel 4 on Thursday, we took the decision with the [Department for Education] this week to bring the announcement forward by some months.”

Channel 4 has said the documentary, set to air on Thursday, will reveal a “troubled picture of chaos” in the council’s children’s services.

In the email Jones stressed the decision was voluntary and the local authority had been considering alternative models of delivery for some time. She insisted the council would “retain control of design, delivery and the trust itself”.

However, a Conservative councillor in Birmingham said the council had come under pressure to act. In a series of tweets Matt Bennett, the shadow cabinet member for children’s services, said that the decision was being made “in same way people voluntarily hand over their money at gunpoint”.

He quoted statements made by Jones earlier in the year where the council decided to keep children’s services in house.

The move to shift Birmingham’s children’s services to an independent trust follows years of government intervention. The Department for Education said the move was due to the council having failed to improve quickly enough.

In her email Jones said the decision was part of “improving conditions for social workers by exploring an agile organisation that puts them at the centre.”

She added: “The business needs of children’s services are very different to those of many other aspects of the council and many councils have seen advantages in alternative delivery models”.

 

 

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