Wycombe Labour is delighted that Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, is appointing a Social Care Advisor to oversee the improvements necessary for BCC Children’s Services to achieve an adequate performance. Wycombe Labour is delighted for the thousands of children who need care and protection and have been failed by BCC.
Nicky Morgan has issued a direction to BCC to co-operate with her Social Care Advisor under her statutory powers as she is satisfied that BCC’s Children’s services is failing to perform to an adequate standard.
Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour’s spokesperson on health and social care, said
“After all the spin and secrecy from BCC, we now know that BCC failed to convince Nicky Morgan that BCC could get to grips with the problems of its Children’s Services and turn it around.
BCC told us they had poured money into Children’s Services - £8million extra this year so far. However, we now know that BCC under resourced its Children’s Services in the first place in comparison with other Councils. We know this from a confidential document I obtained under freedom of information after complaining to the Information Commissioner.
BCC told us the problems were all the fault of a substantial increase in referrals. However, that same confidential document says there was not an exceptionally high demand on services and they were lower than comparable local authorities.
Cllr Tett, the Leader of the Tory Group on BCC, told me that he was not aware that Children’s Services were putting children at risk until OFSTED reported in June and assessed the services as inadequate. However, we now know from a freedom of information request made by the Bucks Herald that the Director of Children’s Services had formally warned the
Chief Executive of the unacceptably high level of risk in January.
Cllr McPherson, the cabinet member for Children’s Services told us in September that she was totally committed to improving Children’s Services and her aim was to get back to a ‘good judgment within 18 months’. She resigned a month or so later for ‘personal reasons’.
On 11 November, Cllr Tett told us that BCC had done a ‘very robust job’ in preparing its improvement plan and that Council had given it a ‘really thorough analysis’; BCC’s Select Committee had ‘raised some really good points’ and it was a ‘really good plan’.
We now know that 6 working days later the Department of Education published its direction to BCC. Surely Cllr Tett had some inkling on 11 November that the improvement plan wasn’t good enough?
On 24 November, Cllr Tett said of the new Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Lin Hazell, “Lin's commitment and experience will be vital in delivering the comprehensive improvement plan we set out following our OFSTED inspection report. She will be a real asset to the Cabinet and her previous knowledge means she can hit the ground running."
There is no mention of the direction which by now is on the Department of Education’s website. Surely by this time he knew Nicky Morgan had not been convinced by BCC’s representations?
In fact Cllr Tett still hasn’t publicly mentioned the direction. No statement, no press release.
When is he going to get round to telling us that Nicky Morgan thinks BCC’s Children’s Services is failing to perform to an adequate standard and that she took just 7 working days to turn down BCC’s improvement plan and issue a statutory direction?
Doesn’t he know what is happening or is it that he doesn’t want to explain to everyone in Bucks that BCC continues to fail its most vulnerable children?
Won’t it be good if we had some straightforward openness from BCC? ”