Council could lose control of its children’s services

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Wakefield Council could lose operational control of its children’s services if a new review finds that it can’t make the much-needed improvements.

A commissioner has been appointed to scrutinise the authority to assess whether it can make the necessary improvements in a required time frame.

The council was heavily criticised by Ofsted in a report published in June when it said children were being put at risk.

The report laid bare a catalogue of failings facing and despite highlighting problems during the last full inspection in 2016, the situation continued to deteriorate.

The latest review may determine that the best way to improve would be to remove control of the services from Wakefield Council, at least for a short period of time.

Peter Dwyer, the former director of children’s services at North Yorkshire County Council, has now been appointed by the Department for Education as the commissioner to assemble a thorough report into the council and to consider the next steps.

Merran McRae, chief executive of Wakefield Council, said: “We welcome the appointment of the commissioner and we will co-operate fully.

“Our priority is to ensure that services are brought up to the standard our children and families need and deserve and we are determined to deliver this.

“Changes are already underway to strengthen our services.

“We’re recruiting more family support and social workers to make sure help is available to children, young people and families who need it.

“We have already strengthened the senior team and continue to recruit to key positions, both on the management team and frontline.”

The commissioner’s report will run in tandem with the council’s plans to make improvements recommended by Ofsted.

The review will last for the next three months.

An additional £3m has already been put into the children’s services budget, and a further £1m allocated to the improvement plan which will be submitted to Ofsted f