Beverley Hughes: Doncaster review will address ‘root causes’ of failings

Doncaster Council children’s services could face a similar overhaul to Haringey following the Baby P case, the children’s minister has warned.

Beverley Hughes said in a letter to the council this month that inspectors had raised “very serious issues” during the annual performance assessment that found children’s services were inadequate.

She ordered a “thorough diagnostic review” including the council’s capacity to improve.

Hughes said that once the report was completed she would consider whether it was necessary to use powers under the Education Act 1996 to bring about necessary changes. Children’s secretary Ed Balls invoked the same powers to remove former Haringey children’s director Sharon Shoesmith from her post in the wake of Baby P and bring in a replacement.

In her letter to Doncaster Council Mayor Martin Winter, Hughes said: “I recognise that you have taken a series of actions since [last] April with the aim of addressing the failings identified. However it is crucial that the root causes of these failings are fully explored and the capacity and capability of the council and its key partners to drive improvement in these areas is fully assessed.”

Mayor Winter welcomed the review. He said Doncaster Council had assessed itself as inadequate and would start an internal and independent investigation on Wednesday “to find out why we have experienced such difficulties in our delivery of child safety”.

The news came as Doncaster political leaders prepared to hold an emergency meeting on child protection cases.

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