Kent social workers were under ‘intolerable pressure’

The man in charge of overhauling Kent County Council’s failing children’s services has said social workers were under “intolerable pressure”.

An Ofsted inspection last November concluded children had been left at risk of significant harm by inadequate services in almost every area.

Malcolm Newsam said when he took over, staff had up to three times the number of caseloads they should have had.

A council report last month found “significant progress” had been made.

Mr Newsam, who was paid about £1,000 a day on an interim basis, said: “We would work on the basis that an average caseload would be 20 to 25 cases.

‘Intolerable pressure’

“We found the averages were significantly higher than that and many workers would have, in extremis, 40, 60, 70 cases.

“That puts intolerable pressure on that individual and makes it very difficult for them to meet the standards that families require.”

Following last year’s unannounced Ofsted inspection, the council apologised and recruited a special team of 50 social workers at a cost of £2m to address the failings.

Mr Newsam said: “Clearly if you overload staff they can’t do their job properly and everything we have been doing is about taking that backlog out and giving people reasonable workloads and restoring balance to their working lives.”

A permanent director of families and social care, Andrew Ireland, is due to take up his post this week.