The below Parliamentary question was asked by Gareth Thomas on 2016-10-11.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which local authorities’ children’s social work services have been rated inadequate; and if she will make a statement.
The following local authorities are currently rated as ‘inadequate’ under Ofsted’s Single Inspection Framework:
Birmingham, Bromley, Buckinghamshire, Coventry, Cumbria, Darlington, Doncaster, Dudley, Knowsley, Lambeth, Lancashire, Leicester City, Manchester, Norfolk, Reading, Rotherham, Sandwell, Slough, Somerset, Sunderland, Surrey, Torbay, Wandsworth, West Berkshire and Wirral.
The Government does not use set criteria to require local authorities to contract out their statutory children’s social care services.
The Department for Education has statutory powers to intervene in local authority children’s services under section 497A of the Education Act 1996. This legislation allows the Department to remove day-to-day operational control of children’s services from the local authority, for a period of time, if the Secretary of State believes that the local authority is failing to secure its relevant statutory functions by delivering children’s services to the required standard.
As a matter of policy, the Government has decided that any authority rated by Ofsted as ‘inadequate’ across all the key judgements in any one Ofsted inspection is deemed to be failing ‘systemically’, and any authority that is rated inadequate twice overall in any five year period is deemed to be failing persistently.
In these circumstances the Secretary of State appoints a children’s services commissioner to review services and then provide advice to the Secretary of State on whether they should remain in local authority control.
Once the Secretary of State has received the commissioner’s advice, she will decide whether to direct the authority to enter into a contract with a third party – for instance a Children’s Services Trust – to deliver those services on its behalf.