‘More work to be done’ for children’s services in Wakefield

Coun Margaret Isherwood
Coun Margaret Isherwood

Wakefield’s Labour and Conservative group have exchanged jibes over the state of the district’s children’s services, after the local council was allowed to remain in control of it.

The government concluded last week that the local authority had made sufficient progress in improving the service, after a damning Ofsted report in the summer said vulnerable children were being failed by it.

Ministers decided against taking over the service themselves or instructing that it be privatised.

However, the council will be scrutinised further over the coming months to ensure it remains on track with the improvements.

Speaking at a full council meeting Cabinet member for children and young people Margaret Isherwood thanked social workers for their efforts over recent months, but added that there was “more work to be done”.

She said: “We need a steely focus so we can now move forward and achieve what we want, which is a good service for our young people.’

But the leader of the Tory opposition, Nadeem Ahmed, said that the outcome of the government’s inspection was “nothing to be celebrating” and said that the scrutiny the service was placed under represented a “worst case scenario”.

He said: “The commissioner’s visit in the first place shows the council wasn’t capable of meeting the needs of the young people. Though the work of the staff has ensured that the council hasn’t lost the service, until another inspection’s confirmed there’s still a lot of work required to make sure that it’s at a good level.”

In response, Coun Isherwood branded that assessment “unfair” and said that of 16 authorities to have had their children’s services rated inadequate, Wakefield was one of only two to have been allowed to keep hold of the department.