Following publication of the OFSTED report rating Barnet's Children's Services as 'inadequate', Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: "This is a damning report on children's social care in Barnet - children and families are clearly being let down by the standard of services Barnet Council provides.
"The removal of a tier of middle management in a re-structure of children's services in 2014 resulted in Barnet losing 38% of its social care staff. The over reliance on a large number of agency staff following that re-structure has had a disastrous effect on the quality and consistency of social care work.
"We raised concerns about the quality of children's social care practice, and the high vacancy rate and agency worker rate a year ago at both the Performance Committee and Children's Committee, and called for additional resources for children's services to be considered.
"While extra funds were provided to deal with recruitment and retention problems, Barnet obviously still has a significant way to go to reach the quality of service families and vulnerable children deserve.
"We recognise the work the Strategic Director - who was appointed after this re-structure - has already done to identify problems and put plans in place for improvement, however the report is a damning indictment of the political administration.
"The safety of children must be a top priority for the Council, and Cllr Reuben Thompstone, the Lead Member for Children's Services, who has a statutory role for children's services must be held ultimately accountable for this significant deterioration in the quality of these services while he has been Lead Member.
"The corporate parenting role of all councillors for our looked after children, also needs strengthening beyond the work of the small number of councillors on the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel.
"There also needs to be better co-ordination and communication of performance information between the Panel, the Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee and the Performance & Contract Management Committee.
"This is something we will be raising at the CELS meeting on 18 July."
1. A copy of the OFSTED report and Barnet Council statement can be found here: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/news/OFSTED-inspection-findings.html
2. Details of Cllr Rawlings' referral of social care performance concerns can be found here: http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/concerns_grow_as_spend_on_agency_staff_in_children_s_social_care_rockets_74
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