Somerset County Council’s inadequate-rated children’s services have been praised by Edward Timpson for “significant improvement”.
In a letter to the council’s cabinet, the children’s minister said four reviews of Somerset’s services carried out since Ofsted’s last inspection in March 2015 found “more manageable caseloads, a more stable workforce and better partnership working”.
The reviews, carried out by representatives from Essex council, found “tangible improvements in social work practice, resulting in children and families receiving a considerably better service”.
The 2015 inspection was the second consecutive report to brand the service ‘inadequate’. It criticised leaders for not having “sufficient understanding of failures” and the high number of agency social workers limiting the authority’s ability to provide an acceptable quality of social work practice.
Somerset’s children’s services have been subject to intervention from the government since the inspection.
Timpson said he would not escalate the government’s intervention, but if improvements do not continue, he “will not hesitate” to take it further.
The review’s author said improvements had been made “from a very low base” and more needed to be done.
John Osman, leader of the council, praised the work of staff in the services and said continuing the improvement journey would remain a priority.
“We have put in the extra resources that were needed to drive up standards and our staff are committed to seeing the work through,” Osman said.