Laming blames state of children’s services on sector’s poor leadership

Nearly two years after his report into the death of Victoria
Climbi’ was published, Lord Laming still has “large concerns” about
the speed with which some social services departments are

He told MPs this week that although the government had accepted the
report’s 108 recommendations, the greatest test of improvement of
services was certainty about their quality “at the front

“That is something we have not got,” he said.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons education and skills select
committee on Every Child Matters earlier this week, Laming said:
“There is still a long way to go. Some local authorities are doing
very much better. But there are some that have yet to get the

He added that it was “pretty drastic” that almost five years after
Victoria’s death, Ealing social services department, one of four
that failed her, was downgraded from a one to a zero star-rating
last month.

“It leads me to suspect that they have not got the will or the
capacity to change,” he said. “I do not know how long you should
give local authorities [to improve].”

Laming also criticised the quality of leadership in public services
more generally, adding that in some public authorities “the quality
of managers has not kept pace with the demands of the job”.

“This is not about local authority bashing or social worker
bashing. It is, in my view, more generally about the quality of
leadership in public services.”

He said the government should be given credit for the way it had
responded to his report, describing the Children Act 2004 as

Local safeguarding children boards, which will replace area child
protection committees, were a “significant step forward”, he said.

However, he warned against an “all-singing and all-dancing”
children’s database, calling instead for it to hold basic
information at a national level to cope with the rate of
geographical mobility.

He added that the children’s commissioner’s role should not be to
second guess the decisions of social workers or health workers but
to be a genuine advocate for children.

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