Cardiff faces new inspection after damning joint review

Welsh social services minister Jane Hutt has ordered a special
inspection of children’s services in Cardiff in the wake of a
damning joint review, writes Alex

The report says that service users and carers are disadvantaged
by delays, service shortfalls and inconsistencies in getting the
help they need.

Hutt said: “I am seriously concerned that vulnerable children
and adults are not consistently receiving the services they should.
It is vital that Cardiff council uses this report to make necessary

“I will meet council leaders to discuss how they will put things
right. Progress will be closely monitored,” she said.

The Social Services Inspectorate for Wales will carry out a
special inspection of children’s services in the spring, to
follow up particular concerns in the report, she said.

The joint review, carried out by a special team on behalf of the
Audit Commission and the Social Services Inspectorate for Wales,
says that social services in Cardiff are not serving people well.
It places the council in the lowest category both for current
standard of service and potential for improvement.

It highlights particular concern about children’s
services, and says that although performance is improving, the
authority is still not meeting its statutory obligations in respect
of children who are at risk or looked after.

The report catalogues a series of flaws in services with
children exposed to unacceptable risks owing to a substantial
backlog of high-risk referrals and other factors. It also found
that some children remain in care longer than is necessary waiting
for adoption.

The review also says that staffing pressures need to be tackled,
and this includes the recruitment and retention of good staff

It did find examples of some good services, such as the
community alcohol team and hospital social work. One welcome
development, says the report, is the setting up of a new team to
develop the previously neglected services to support children with

In its response, Cardiff council said that changes to transform
social services are already underway: “This will see a fundamental
change so that services better serve the needs of vulnerable
people, and not just the professionals working in the service.
There is a willingness and commitment to re-shape social services
and a full involvement in the consultation process.”

The spokesperson added: “Many steps have already been taken to
improve matters, and the council is giving top priority to
developing a ‘new era’ in social care.”

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