Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, has responded to today's publication of the Ofsted report into Gloucestershire County Council's Children's Services.
‘I am somewhat reassured that the report has found improvement in elements of children’s services, leading to better results for some of our county’s most vulnerable. However, while Ofsted reported on areas of improvement, it also highlighted that this was not consistent across the service and that there are whole areas that the County Council has even begun to address.
‘It is alarming that once again Gloucestershire County Council, in its statement, has skipped over the negatives, just highlighting those areas that flatter. Specifically, the report referenced a lack of consistent timely visits to children where there are safeguarding concerns, leading to “children remain[ing] in situations of unassessed risk for too long”, as well as a failure to follow processes “where there are clear disclosures of abuse.”
‘I also read today with continued dismay about the ongoing failure to recruit and retain council social workers, with around 40 per cent of the workforce being made up of agency staff. And while the report highlighted improved morale, the latest internal audits of children’s services were particularly negative, so this remains an area of concern.
‘Such failings are clearly wholly unacceptable, particularly where child safety is concerned, and for the county to rectify all areas of children’s services it cannot continue to brush over where they are failing those most vulnerable in society.
‘We all know that improving children-services is going to be a long-term project after so many years of failure by the Conservatives, however helping vulnerable children right now must be the priority. The county’s Liberal Democrat councillors will continue to scrutinise the work of the administration and ensure that each and every one of the recommendations is acted upon swiftly.’