Northamptonshire County Council’s Children’s Services department
has been in chaos ever since the first OFSTED reports condemning it came out in
2013. This was following huge funding cuts to the service by the Conservative Administration
as they tried to deliver their government’s austerity agenda. Since that time
huge amounts of money have been thrown at the service in various attempts to reorganise
and improve it, including millions of pounds trying to set up the council’s
discredited Next Generation project where they had intended to put the service
into a third-party stand-alone trust model.
Following national criticism of this Next Generation
plan (including from Max caller, the government’s own inspector who was sent it
to look at the financial mess at NCC) the Conservatives abandoned that idea,
only to have it forced upon them by central government as part of their radical
unitary council solution for Northamptonshire.
The argument is that the service is failing to such a
massive degree that the improvements that are needed to bring the service up
where it needs to be would be too great to do at the same time as planning for
the service to be split into two separate bodies to come under the direct
control of the two proposed new unitary councils for Northamptonshire.
However, this latest report clearly shows that enough is
All the effort and work that has gone on over the last few
years seems to have come to nothing with the service still inadequate. This
despite improvement plan after improvement plan, service reorganisation and transformation,
and as well as coming under the direct responsibility of the government’s own
Children’s Commissioner but yet we seem to be no further forward.
It is clear that everything tried so far is not working
and simply transferring the service en masse to a new
organisation with the same people in charge and the same working practices and
culture is not going to work.
What is needed is a completely fresh start and if we are
to have new councils (we’re still awaiting Parliament’s final decision) be
given the job of delivering better and more efficient public services across
the West and the North of Northamptonshire, they need to be given the opportunity
to design their own service from scratch and not just buy into the already
failing system that currently exists, albeit it with new governance which arguably
could mean even less local accountability and transparency.
Cllr. Mick Scrimshaw
The Following is a joint Statement from
Cllr. Jane Birch (Labour’s Children’s Services Spokesperson) and Cllr. Danielle
Stone (Labour’s Deputy Leader) OFSTED report highlights serious issues in
Labour group at the county council has been highlighting weaknesses in
children’s services for years now. Our concerns are now backed by a damning
OFSTED inspection report.
Services in Northamptonshire have been failing for 6 years. This is Tory
misrule. An administration who thinks it’s OK to over pay consultants and
interims, and under pay front line staff.
administration that closed the Youth Service, closed Sure Start Centres, sacked
all its middle managers. This is mismanagement on a colossal scale.
is also an administration driven by the notion of outsourcing its responsibilities
that sends our children out of the county and delivers them into the hands of
Danielle Stone (Labour, Abington and Phippsville), says, “Enough is enough. The
leader of the council must step down. This is a failed authority. We should
have fresh elections so that we can sweep them out. They cannot manage money.
They cannot manage services. The OFSTED report is absolutely damning. We need
urgent action to protect our children, to support our families, to look after
our front line staff”.
Cllr. Jane Birch (Labour, Kingsthorpe South, shadow portfolio for children’s services), says, “I am shocked and deeply hurt, but not surprised, by the judgement in this report. Our children deserve the very best we can give. Yet they have been made extremely vulnerable through years and years of mismanagement by an administration with the wrong priorities. A children’s trust, more outsourcing, is not the answer. We need to create locality working. We need community hubs staffed by well- paid permanent staff, working in partnership with the voluntary sector in each neighbourhood. I want all our children brought back into the county, where it is safe to do so. I want to see an end to supported housing for 16 -18 year olds. We should be developing a more protective supported lodgings service and we need to attract more in- house foster parents. Above all, we need to invest immediately in preventative services and early help services.”
(Photo above of Councillors Stone and Birch with others protesting about County Council cuts)