Leeds Council’s safeguarding and looked-after children services have been rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted.
The inspectorate found that the cost of delivering effective child protection services was “not yet fully understood” by the council which had only recently lowered its thresholds for access to child protection to “an appropriate level”.
Lowering the thresholds had significantly increased the workload on social workers which was having an impact on the quality of their assessments, Ofsted found. Leeds Local Children’s Safegarding Board was failing to provide effective leadership and the council’s electronic recording system was “not fit for practice”.
Ofsted also found the ability of the council to improve its rating would be limited until social worker caseloads could be reduced and frontline management capacity increased.
Sandwell Council was also rated as “inadequate” as reported by Community Care last week. Its local children’s safeguarding board and children’s trust had failed to show any leadership and fluctuating staff levels had caused a reliance on agency staff. Managers often had to act down just to meet demand, the watchdog said.
Its ability to improve was also deemed inadequate based on its failure to implement improvements from a joint-area review conducted in 2006.
Meanwhile, Swindon received a “good” rating from Ofsted which praised the council’s use of the common assessment framework and its joint commissioning of children’s services with the local PCT. However, the high number of children being taken into protection by the police needed to be examined.