Surrey Council has promised to deliver an annual report on child protection in the county in return for the removal of government intervention, put in place two years ago.
This comes a week after Channel 4 screened Dispatches Undercover Social Worker, which exposed problems within child protection at the council.
The council has insisted the decision was not related to the programme.
“What’s important to note is that the independent chair of the improvement board has made this decision – she’s decided based on the big picture,” a council spokesman told Community Care. “The council leader has written to the minister about it, but it was the chair’s judgement, not ours.
“The Dispatches programme relates to what was going on at the end of last year. The concerns in that programme were being addressed before the programme was aired. The council really doesn’t have anything more to say about it than that.”
The council has written to children’s minister Tim Loughton saying the independent improvement board set up to improve its children’s services was no longer needed.
The letter pointed to an unnannounced Ofsted inspection which identified significant improvement in the services, external inspectors also noting strong progress. In addition, a letter from previous ministers commending “significant achievements” was cited as evidence of improvement.
In a meeting of the full council yesterday Surrey Council leader Dr Andrew Povey said he wanted the Surrey Safeguarding Children Board to provide councillors with a summary each year of all children’s safeguarding issues in the county as part of a new “openness” drive.
“I also want an independent expert to report back to ensure accountability and external challenge, and to embed the many changes that have taken place. I am very keen to see the quality assurance system in place, and children’s services will be a part of that,” Dr Povey told the meeting.
Director for Children’s Services Andy Roberts told Community Care recently that the problems uncovered by the Dispatches programme had been rectified after the date of filming and before the show aired last week.
Surrey frustration at Dispatches programme