Joint review details Wakefield problems

Wakefield Council social services are not
serving local people well and have uncertain prospects for
improvement, a joint review by the Audit Commission and the Social
Services Inspectorate published last month has revealed.

The report said the council had failed to
develop its services due to a heavy reliance on providing them
in-house at a high cost. Services for disabled people were singled
out as being particularly in need of improvement. Service
development was also being hindered by poor information technology,
financial management, and staffing issues.

Joint review director John Bolton said that
the council was not making the best use of its resources and was
failing many vulnerable people.

“What this review is suggesting is a total
overhaul of the way services are provided,” Bolton said. “Not only
do they need to be more responsive to users’ needs, they should
also be more cost effective.”

The review team recommended that the council
streamlined management and procedures, created incentives for
change, and commissioned services more strategically according to
Best Value principles.

Council chief executive John Edwards said:
“This report raises serious challenges and we must respond quickly
and effectively. We will do so without shirking our responsibility
to the people of this district. They must come first at all

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