Councils fail to make tough decisions needed for progress

Local authority social services departments are failing to make
positive changes to their provision fast enough, according to the
joint review team’s sixth annual report, writes
Anabel Unity Sale

‘Tracking the Changes’ found that 16 out of the 30 councils
reviewed in 2001-02 were judged as having poor or uncertain
prospects. Just 4 per cent of councils served most people well and
were deemed to have excellent prospects.

The report found that of the councils judged not to be serving
people well, they typically had one or more of the following
weaknesses: concerns over the management of risk to vulnerable
children or adults; poor customer care with waiting lists or slow
response times; and shortcomings in assessment and care management

Sir Andrew Foster, controller of the Audit Commission, said
there is a growing awareness among councils of their need to
embrace change. “Social services are still not where they should
be, but steps are being made in the right direction.”

Foster added that some council’s avoidance of making
“tough decisions” hinders their progress and results in further

Chief inspector of social services Denise Platt said while there
was “excellence in many services”, it was spread too thinly.
“Councils should not be afraid to challenge and make radical change
to the way they have delivered their services in the past if they
are to meet the public’s expectation,” she said.

There have been 116 reviews conducted in England since the Audit
Commission and the Social Services Inspectorate established the
joint review team in 1996.

‘Tracking the Changes in Social Services in England’ available
from 0800 502 030

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