Children’s care ‘unsafe’ at third of councils

The social care system for children is under massive pressure, Ofsted warned today. A huge rise in the number of children being referred to social services has left staff with little time for face-to-face work.

More than one in three of the 29 local authorities inspected this year are not keeping children safe and have been judged “inadequate”, according to today’s report.

It said: “The system of social care for children is under very considerable pressure. This pressure is felt more or less throughout the system and in every part of the country.

“There is very great variation in the effectiveness with which local authorities and local partnerships manage that pressure.”

Ofsted now inspects every aspect of education and children’s social services apart from universities.

No local authority was judged to be “outstanding” for its social care. The report found that more than half of social workers said they had too little time to work directly with children.

Instead, they spend too much time recording data in complicated computer systems.

In the 12 months to March referrals to children’s social care services increased by 11 per cent, the report said. Over the same period the number of “initial assessments” increased by 12 per cent. The number of children subject to child protection plans rose by 4.7 per cent.