New child safety fears at Birmingham social services

AN ex-Birmingham social worker fears more children will die unless the cost-cutting Government invests more cash in social services.

She quit the city council last year after it was rocked by a series of child deaths and is now working at another local authority.

During her time in Birmingham, she witnessed the fallout after social services failed tragic Khyra Ishaq – and believes planned Government cuts will lead to further tragedies.

She said: “More children will die in Birmingham, I’m certain of that. When I worked at the city’s social services, it was hard enough with the resources we had.

“I was hoping the Government would take what happened in Birmingham as a sign and invest in the future. But they don’t seem to have learned.”

Chancellor George Osborne set aside an extra £2 billion for social work in the Spending Review, but that will have to be spread across the whole country and experts admit it is unlikely to be enough. Councils like Birmingham also face a 27 per cent cut in grant funding over the next five years.

Earlier this year, six social workers were sacked following an inquiry into the death of seven-year-old Khyra in May 2008.

She died when her body succumbed to an infection after months of starvation at her home in Handsworth.

Khyra was removed from school in December 2007 and social workers made several attempts to visit her home. But they failed to rescue her from the clutches of her deranged mother Angela Gordon and her mentally ill partner Junaid Abuhamza.

Gordon was jailed in March for 15 years, while her former partner was jailed indefinitely with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years.

Earlier this month Birmingham City Council hired troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil to turn round its children’s services department.

The manager was brought in to fix social care in Haringey after the death of Baby Peter and has a track record of transforming social services in some of the country’s toughest inner-city areas.

Yet the former Birmingham social worker said the troubleshooter had a tough new job on her hands.

“I wish Mrs Brazil all the best but Birmingham is a much bigger problem than Haringey,’’ she said. The only sure way to solve the problems is through investment – and I fear that will never happen.”