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Wakefield Council plans to increase number of social workers after damning Ofsted visit

Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box
Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box

Wakefield Council has pledged to increase the number of its social workers after a shocking Ofsted letter revealed that vulnerable children were being put at risk due to failings in its services.

The education watchdog said there were “significant weaknesses” in the quality of the authority's services for children, with delays in allocating cases and seeing and assessing children at risk of harm, after a visit in February.

It said social workers with high caseloads did not have the capacity to meet the needs of children and families.

The council has drawn up an improvement plan of immediate actions for the next six months, pledging to ensure all children’s social care cases are allocated, increase the number of social workers, and make sure no young person leaving care is placed in B&B accommodation, among other actions.

A ‘transformation plan’ to be delivered over 18 months, is also being developed.

The plan says: “Services for children in Wakefield are on a journey to improve. We want to ensure we provide good services and high quality practice.”

It was published today as part of the agenda report for the authority’s children, young people and skills overview and scrutiny committee meeting, to be held next Wednesday.

The plan follows comments from council leader Coun Peter Box, who admitted in April that the authority’s previous plan to improve services was not “sufficiently robust”.

The scrutiny committee will hear from new corporate director for children and young people Beate Wagner, who was appointed in March.

She is expected to tell members about the council’s current position and its future plans for improvement in children’s services.

The meeting will also hear from Coun Lorna Malkin, the chair of a new ‘Corporate Parent Committee’.

According to the agenda report, the new committee will provide councillors with information on issues for children in care, supporting them to fulfil their role as ‘corporate parents’ for looked after youngsters.