Ten councils fail to shine in first social services star rating results

Ten social services departments were awarded
zero stars this week in the first round of the new performance
rating system announced by health secretary Alan Milburn last

Of the
10, four were previously on special measures. The remaining six
have now been added to the special measures list and will become
subject to external support and intervention.

least two of the six have already lost their directors of social
services – Don Phillips at Walsall and Jeremy Ambache at the London
Borough of Bromley.

Meanwhile, the London boroughs of
Hackney, Lambeth, and Newham, plus Lancashire, Peterborough, and
Sheffield social services departments have been removed from
special measures after being awarded one-star ratings.

further 76 social services departments were also awarded one star,
while 50 received two stars.

eight social services departments achieved the top three-star
rating and can look forward to more freedom, including automatic
access to their share of the social services performance fund and
fewer restrictions around the spending of grants. The number of
inspections will also be cut at these departments.

Announcing the star ratings
scheme for social services departments a month after the
introduction of a similar scheme for health trusts in September
last year, Milburn said the new assessments would provide “the
basis for action to improve social services”.

“In a
decisive break from the past, social services departments will be
ranked on their performance, with more freedom and rewards for the
best and more help for the worst,” he declared.

ratings are calculated by combining performance judgements for
current services for adults and children with their prospects for
improvement, using performance indicators, inspections, and other
monitoring information.

and children’s services are judged of equal weight, current
performance is considered more important than prospects for
improvement, and a “failure” in either adult services or children’s
services results in zero stars no matter how good the other
services are. A set of 11 key indicators were used to ensure
consistency between councils. Falling below a minimum standard on
any of these indicators resulted in the highest judgements not
being available.

social services star ratings will feed into the comprehensive
performance assessment of all local government services by the end
of the year.

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