Council to shift children’s services into company

Reading council says the move to a company 'wholly owned' by the authority will help focus services on core tasks

adult and child
Photo: Nadezhda1906/Fotolia (posed by models)

Children’s services in Reading will move to a new company “wholly owned” by the council, the local authority has announced.

“The standalone company will focus solely on the operation of children’s services, allowing social workers and other staff to concentrate on their core day to day activity,” the council said in a statement.

Last September the government appointed Nick Whitfield, the chief executive of community interest company Achieving for Children, to evaluate whether Reading‘s ‘inadequate’ children’s services should leave direct council control. Achieving for Children has operated children’s services in the London boroughs of Kingston and Richmond since 2014, and recently took over at  neighbouring Windsor and Maidenhead.

Reading‘s decision comes just a month after an Ofsted monitoring report described progress at the council as “too slow and process-oriented”. It said the workforce remained unstable and that “the majority of senior, middle and frontline managers” were still temporary staff.

A number of other councils, including Slough and Doncaster, have moved their children’s services into trusts or separate companies. It is envisaged that Reading‘s new system will be up and running by September 2018.

“This means we can build on the improvements made so far and – importantly – it will allow us to ensure those improvements are sustainable in the long term,” said Jo Lovelock, the leader of Reading council, adding that she accepted Ofsted’s recent criticisms.

“Clearly we need to have detailed discussions with staff and social workers who are working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances,” Lovelock said.

Whitfield added that the council had increased its children’s services budgets and was “in the process” of filling managerial posts permanently to promote stability ahead of the changes.

“The lead member and council officers have been fully co-operative with me in exploring options that will allow the improvements in children’s services, which all parties want to see,” Whitfield said. “We will work together in the coming months to ensure the council’s ambitions are fulfilled.”

5 Responses to Council to shift children’s services into company

  1. LongtimeSW August 1, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    Be very suspicious – This is a ‘back door’ move to change terms and conditions, including pensions, working hours, annual leave etc.

    – the next step after this will be to impose ‘new’ contracts with a take it or leave it attitude

    – there is a real parallel with NHS – the NHS ‘in-house’ staff supply company that provides cost effective staffing (as opposed to agency workers) is to be privatised – this will happen in social work and those of our agency colleagues will also find that their rates will be slashed as Council’s move to privatisation of services.

    It is interesting that it is not the social work staff that ‘failed’ but the process driven system and uncertainty about management
    Be Warned

    • wendy August 2, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

      I have spent a year studying cases involving all of these services , police sw ss cafcass, courts judges, hospitals, probation, teachers, solicitors, NHS

      its not down to 1 person about our children being illegally removed, from hospitals, schools,
      home by force, the people above all have a part to play,,,

      I do believe the buck stops at the court door, one judge he answers to no one, he is the yes or no man,

  2. Anon August 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    Richmond children services cannot even put their own house in order. They are a shamble as is Kingston yet they state they are sorting out another LA???

  3. Manzar iqbal August 3, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    IF THIS IS NOT PRIVATISATION THROUGH THE BACK DOOR,THEN I AM NOT SURE WHAT IS?

    THE TORY GOVERNMENT WILL DO ANYTHING TO MSKE THIS HAPPEN. THEY THINK THE BRITISH PUBLIC ARE STUPID. (Manzar Iqbal Pendle Labour Party Black and Minority Ethnic Officer).

  4. Ruksana Chowdhory August 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    Rather than a complete overhaul of the service, why not just focus on common sense changes, such as a manageable caseload, good reflective supervision, needs – not cost – driven response and intervention and service wide strategy as well as stable management and workforce? Additionally, subscription to a model of systemic teams has the potential to significantly reduced the number of revolving door cases, and consequently saving costs in the long term if funding for social care is such a bane to the Government. Families start receiving the intervention they need at the earliest opportunity without the hassle of referrals, funding approvals, waiting lists, consent to work with additional services/share information, agencies shirking responsibility/blaming each other etc.

    Surely we cannot continue having the same discussions about “inadequate” councils needing to be “saved” by “alternative models” when there are more straightforward responses to be used in such a scenario. Unless of course the Government is more interested in corporate stakes by backdoor privitisation rather than the wellbeing of society’s most needy and those that support them, which is probably the most realistic answer.