Haringey asks Ed Balls for extra cash in wake of Baby P case

Haringey Council representatives are meeting with children’s secretary Ed Balls today to ask for more money to implement reforms following the Baby P case.

The move was revealed at a council meeting last night where it was agreed that extra resources were needed to ensure other services were not put at risk.

Cllr Lorna Reith, Haringey’s cabinet member for children and young people, told the meeting the recruitment situation at the council was “precarious” and suggested that financial incentives could be considered to attract staff.

She confirmed the council would be asking central government for more money.

Action plan

Council leader Claire Kober said she would present an action plan in response to the recent joint area review ordered after the Baby P case, and Ofsted’s annual performance assessment  published yesterday, to Ed Balls on 28 February.

She also indicated the council accepted forthcoming changes to the inspection regime, designed to make it more rigorous.

“The key truths about our child protection systems are not told through bar charts or number flows but through narrative where frontline staff tell us about the challenges they face, and how children and young people experience the service,” she told councillors.

Kober accepted the findings of the inspections, and said: “There is no choice other than a complete transformation in the way we discharge our child protection duties.”

She added that more children were at risk in London compared with other parts of the country due to “deep-rooted poverty and disadvantage”.

She cited 2007-8 figures for Haringey showing that the council recieved an average of 213-232 child protection referrals every month.

LibDem accusation

But opposition Liberal Democrat councillors rounded on Labour members, accusing them of blocking scrutiny of children’s services and the Baby P case.

Gail Engert, shadow cabinet member for children and young people, claimed Labour councillors “continued to silence debate and suppress scrutiny”.

Liberal Democrat councillors called for all 13 inspections of children’s services over the past two years to be re-run, but this was rejected.

The council also rejected a proposal to give the position of chair to Haringey’s overview and scrutiny committee to the opposition.

Following the meeting, Lynne Featherstone (pictured), MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said she supported cross-party demands for more resources for Haringey.

“Other key services cannot suffer. Ed Balls must follow up his swift action with real investment to improve our local children’s services,” she added.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Haringey’s leader of the opposition said it was “disappointing” that the council could not agree on re-running inspections. “More rigorous and more independent scrutiny might have uncovered the severe failings in children’s services before it was too late,” he said.

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