Torbay council’s ‘inadequate’-rated children’s services department has had a commissioner and expert advisers appointed by the Department for Education (DfE).
The government told the council it had “persistently failed” in its delivery of children’s services, in a direction issued this week.
Expert advisers from Hampshire council will be sent in to improve the council. John Coughlan, Hampshire’s chief executive, has been appointed commissioner for Torbay and will be tasked with overseeing the improvements.
The DfE told Torbay that in situations where councils persistently fail “there is a presumption that service control will be removed from the council unless there are good reasons not to do so”. The move is the latest in a series of government interventions in failing children’s services. This is the latest in a series of interventions which have seen commissioners appointed in Sunderland, Norfolk and Sandwell over the past year.
Ofsted rated Torbay’s children’s service as ‘inadequate’ in January this year. Inspectors found that leaders in the council had been “ineffective” in improving the quality of practice and that improvement, it had been rated ‘adequate’ in 2013, had not been maintained.
Transfer of control
The DfE noted that Torbay council intends to transfer children’s services into an integrated care organisation next year. That organisation would be run in partnership with the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
Part of the commissioner role will be to review “whether the most effective way of securing and sustaining improvement in Torbay is to transfer control of children’s social care into the [integrated care organisation],” the practice direction said.
Coughlan will advise on the appointment of a new Director of Children’s Services, support practice improvement and work with the DfE to comment on the viability of transferring children’s social care services into the integrated organisation.
A report on the progress made in Torbay is expected in August 2016.