Gordon Lundie, Conservative leader of West Berkshire Council said central government underfunding for social care, aligned with a “blame culture” among national politicians towards social workers both contributed to the authority’s poor Ofsted report earlier this week.
"There has been a dramatic increase in child protection plans but no extra funding for councils to deal with that, which is a problem that national politicians need to address. I would like to see more investment in children’s services. We have been handed a lot of cuts and have been protecting children’s services from them, but that hasn’t been good enough to stem the rising tide of child protection cases. Instead we should have been investing more in it over the last five years.”
The LA has a high turnover of staff within the department and a reliance on agency social workers were among key concerns raised by inspectors.
Lundie says national politicians blaming social workers for challenges facing children’s social care has made it difficult for councils like West Berkshire to fill vacancies.
“Anytime something goes wrong or someone is not achieving enough, the social workers get blamed. When they read headlines like that many wonder why they are doing that job. We need a more grown-up discussion that makes it clear that it is families that put children at risk, not social workers. We need a conversation from government that acknowledges how tough the job is.”