Waltham Forest children’s services threatened with government intervention

Children’s services at Waltham Forest Council need to improve significantly to avoid government intervention, children’s minister Tim Loughton has warned.

Loughton said the government would step in, unless the council makes major improvements to services protecting vulnerable children. His criticism comes after damning reports into aspects of children’s services at the council.

An inspection carried out by Ofsted in September 2011 found that, overall, safeguarding services in Waltham Forest were “adequate”, but services for looked-after children were judged to be “inadequate”.

Furthermore, in its annual assessment published in November, the overall performance of the council’s children’s services was rated as “poor”.

Following discussions between Department for Education officials and the council, Loughton issued an improvement notice to the council.

Councillor Marie Pye, cabinet member for children and young people in Waltham Forest, said: “The appointment of a new chair to the safeguarding board is just one of a number of changes to management that are being made. We are confident that we can raise standards of practice and provide a greatly improved service to residents in the future.

“There is nothing more important than safeguarding our young people and providing services to children in our care. It is down to us to work with local health professionals, schools, families and the whole community, to make sure we are providing the very best service possible.”

The council has been told to prove care standards in children’s services are acceptable and will have to meet a series of targets and deadlines set by the government.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the improvement notice will be published on the Department for Communities and Local Government website in “due course”.

Meanwhile, an unannounced inspection report into Brighton and Hove City Council revealed improvements to safeguarding services, while Halton Borough Council was praised for significant safeguarding improvements.

A report into Cornwall also showed overall improvement in safeguarding services, although inspectors said quality of case recording remained variable.