Birmingham to spend £2m to transform social work

Birmingham City Council is spending more than £2m to transform its troubled children’s services team, Community Care has learned.

“We are spending what it takes, in excess of £2m,” said Colin Tucker, the council’s new director of children’s social care.

Tucker has publicly admitted that social workers lack the skills to judge whether children are really at risk of abuse or neglect.

Almost 600 care management staff who work with children in care have started an intensive training programme to improve their skills. They will cover seven modules over a four month period.

Frontline duty and assessment staff, who assess children at risk of significant harm, are also due to do the course. “We did this after an audit of the records of 2,000 children in care over a six week period, which identified the skills that were missing,” said Tucker.

This month, a report by the council’s scrutiny committee said Birmingham child protection services were “not fit for purpose”. Committee members said they were “shocked and dismayed” at working conditions.

Tucker said that more than 200 staff will move into new office accommodation in the autumn. “It has excellent furnishings and good IT systems and will be replicated for other teams next year,” said Tucker.

“Moral is low, but staff are reassured that the authority is not hiding anything and that it is determined to turn things round,” he added.

Birmingham employs 750 qualified children’s social workers and a further 1,500 social care staff.

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