UNISON welcomes Council’s response after critical official report on Children’s Services in Somerset
UNISON, the public service union which represents many in the workforce in Children’s Social Care, welcomes the statement by the Leader and Chief Executive of the Council that they will take all necessary action to improve the provision of services for children in Somerset. This follows the recently published Ofsted report* on local authority arrangements for the protection of children in Somerset that judged the Council to be overall ‘Inadequate’ in the provision of this key service. The Council has accepted the report and its recommendations in full.
Liz French, Regional Organiser for UNISON, said:
“There is no bigger responsibility than the protection of children in our community and it is therefore deeply disappointing and worrying that the most recent Ofsted inspection of Child Protection services in the county has been judged as ‘Inadequate’ in every area of inspection.
But why has there been no improvement since last year’s Ofsted inspection of Safeguarding and Accommodated Children which assessed the county as only ‘Adequate’? An Improvement Board was put in place, a Peer Challenge was introduced and outside consultants were hired at great expense but all have failed to deliver.
The Council’s children’s services are getting worse not better. Indeed, the Leader, who was also the Cabinet Member responsible for Children’s Services for three years before he became Leader, has consistently stated in public that he will protect the most vulnerable in the county. Those words have a hollow ring now.”
The report acknowledges the commitment and enthusiasm of many in the workforce who undertake complex assessments, often in very trying conditions. Practice can be improved but UNISON believes it should be done through support, training and encouragement and not through bullying or scapegoating. Morale in the service has been low for a long time and staff have left to be replaced by a growing number of agency workers.
What is not included in the report is the worrying prospect of more than seventy reduced posts in Children Service’s for this forthcoming year. How will the council improve, safeguard and protect vulnerable children with a rapidly diminishing workforce?
UNISON is ready to discuss, consult and act as a critical friend to help improve services and ensure that the county’s children are safe but cutting services is not the answer.
For further information contact: Oliver Foster-Burnell, UNISON Area Organiser on 07951547177