Essex County Council in £20m bid to improve services for kids

COUNTY Hall bosses have agreed to pump more than £20million into improving services for children in Essex. Essex County Council’s cabinet this week agreed to transfer £20.9million to help children’s social services.

The money will be spent on hiring more social workers and finding placements for the rising numbers of children in care.

Around £6.2million would come from the contingency fund, £12.7million from general balances and £2million from children’s reserves. Peter Martin, the councillor responsible for children’s social services, told the meeting the cabinet understood the necessity of funding improvements.

He said: “We’ve made it clear, as a cabinet we will find the resources necessary to look after our children.”

An Ofsted report published in March last year described child safeguarding in Essex as inadequate.

We revealed earlier this week nearly 1,000 child care cases do not have an allocated social worker.

The county council has employed 75 more social workers in recent months, which helped bring that figure down from 1,850, but the council admits it still needs more.

Recently, 12 children on the at risk register were found social workers after the problem was highlighted.

Mr Martin added: “We’ve allocated a huge amount of money to recruiting social workers, as that is one of the issues we face.

“That has enabled us to improve our safeguarding service.”