Birmingham social services appointees accused of not being ‘in real world’

BUREAUCRATS and politicians appointed to sort out Birmingham’s failing children’s social services have been accused of “not living in the real world”.

Tory city councillor Reg Corns said an improvement board selected by the Government contained people who knew nothing about the suffering of the poorest families in Birmingham.

The 15 members of the board include Sharon Rowe, Assistant Chief Constable at West Midlands Police, Hilary Thompson, chairman of the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, and Sir David Winkley, a trustee of the Children’s University.

The board is chaired by national social care expert Liz Railton, and other members include city council chief executive Stephen Hughes, the cabinet member for children, Les Lawrence, and the chief executives of the city’s primary care trusts.

Coun Corns (Con Northfield) told a scrutiny committee: “Some of these people don’t understand the real world so they can’t speak with any authority on the issues that exist out there.”

He said the board was unlikely to succeed because it had no representation from the council’s housing department.

Coun Corns added: “Unless you can help families with young children who are at their wits’ end because they live in a tower block and the kids have nowhere to play, then we will be producing more children who come to the attention of social services in the future.

“We have to give these people some form of hope that they will one day get a house.”

The board is responsible for delivering an improvement plan which was drawn up after Ofsted found safeguarding services for children at risk of abuse to be inadequate.