Creating a children’s trust is not the answer to sorting out Northamptonshire’s inadequate children’s services, says the county council’s opposition group.
Today the true extent of the problems within children’s services have been laid bare in a highly critical report published by Ofsted which points to a large number of failings including placing vulnerable young people into unsafe accommodation.
The Government has ordered that the services turn into an independently-run children’s trust – which would mean direct control is taking out of the hands of the local authority. This likely means that the two new proposed unitary authorities would commission services from the trust.
But Labour councillor Jane Birch, shadow portfolio for children’s services, says there has been too much outsourcing by the authority.
She said: “I am shocked and deeply hurt, but not surprised, by the judgement in this report.
“Our children deserve the very best we can give. Yet they have been made extremely vulnerable through years and years of mismanagement by an administration with the wrong priorities.
“A children’s trust, more outsourcing, is not the answer. We need to create locality working. We need community hubs staffed by well- paid permanent staff, working in partnership with the voluntary sector in each neighbourhood. I want all our children brought back into the county, where it is safe to do so. I want to see an end to supported housing for 16 to 18-year-olds.
“We should be developing a more protective supported lodgings service and we need to attract more in-house foster parents. Above all, we need to invest immediately in preventative services and early help services.”
Fellow Labour councillor Danielle Stone has called for leader Matt Golby to stand down. Over recent months the Conservative local politician has batted off numerous calls – including those from Kettering MP Philip Hollobone – to take personal responsibility for the failings and go.
Cllr Stone said: “Enough is enough. The leader of the council must step down. This is a failed authority. We should have fresh elections so that we can sweep them out. They cannot manage money. They cannot manage services. The Ofsted report is absolutely damning. We need urgent action to protect our children, to support our families, to look after our front-line staff.”