Social services department slammed for using ‘inexperienced’ staff

Birmingham social services department used ‘inexperienced staff with insufficient management oversight’ who did not meet the needs of the children in its care, a report has found.

An inquiry was commissioned by ministers after eight children known to the city’s social services team died in the past four years. Ofsted criticised the level of care available.

The report, Who cares? Protecting children and improving children’s social care, was led by former city councillor Len Clark. It found that the model for providing children’s social services across Birmingham was ‘patently not working’, and the system was ‘not fit for purpose’.

The team who visited the council social care buildings said they were ‘shocked and dismayed’ by the standards of the accommodation at some of the sites.

Clark said: ‘Many of the findings of this children’s social care inquiry will not make comfortable reading for the council. This was not the intent.

‘But if we are to make sustainable progress and not just short-term fixes, we must address the underlying issues identified in our report. This must be the city council’s top priority.’

Birmingham City Council accepted the report’s findings. Councillor Les Lawrence, Cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: ‘While recognising there is still work to do, I am pleased that we are starting to see substantial improvements already coming through.

‘There is no quick fix to the problems highlighted, some of which affect all councils nationally, such as the recruitment and retention of social workers.’