A council has issued an emergency investment in frontline social workers amid fears it could fail an upcoming Ofsted inspection and have its children’s services taken over.
Manchester city council has invested an extra £1.5 million to hire children’s social workers and managers.
Council papers on the decision showed the council rushed the move through amid fears that failing re-inspection could see the service taken over by an independent trust. David Cameron said last year that local authorities that fail to improve after a negative inspection will be taken over by other providers.
The council was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in September 2014, and inspectors are due back next month.
‘Financial implications’ of takeover
The document said plans to take over failing children’s services would have “potentially significant financial implications” for local authorities who fail. The council decided an emergency investment in more social workers could help them get through the next inspection.
“The single most influential factor that will determine our success in the re-inspection is the quality of frontline social work and the early help practice along with evidence of good leadership and governance,” the document said.
“Success in this is dependent on securing the right capacity for the service and to continue to reduce caseloads. The additional capacity requested will therefore support the service, currently judged to be ‘inadequate, to be fully prepared for re-inspection.”
The extra money will be taken out of the looked-after children reserve carried forward into 2016/17. Following the council’s ‘inadequate’ inspection the children’s services director quit, and the council invested more than £14 million in improving services.
However, this doesn’t appear to have been enough, and the council said: “Due to the imperative to move quickly in the context of the pending Ofsted inspection and to improve performance and outcomes, this decision will enable the performance issues to be robustly tackled and resources will be prioritised in parts city where the most issues are being experienced.”