Bringing children’s services back under Doncaster Council control ‘is not a financial decision’ says councillor

A senior councillor has said that bringing children’s services back into Doncaster Council’s control is ‘not a financial decision’.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 3:09 pm

Cabinet members agreed to serve notice on Doncaster Children’s Services Trust – an arm’s length management organisation – who run social services in the borough.

Speaking exclusively to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Coun Rachael Blake, cabinet member for children and young people at Doncaster Council, was keen to stress that this was a mutual agreement to improve ‘benefit outcomes for children’.

It is expected services will be back solely in council hands by September 2022. From April 1 until the handover, there will be consultation with staff and trade unions.

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Councillor Rachael Blake

There will be no loss of jobs, as all posts will be transferred to the council as the new employer, DMBC bosses said.

Former Secretary of State Michael Gove ordered the council to transfer its social care services to an independent trust back in 2013 following high profile scandals in children’s social care.

A review found a ‘culture of failure and disillusion’ at Doncaster that ‘pervades the service and serves to obstruct every attempt at reform’.

In January 2021, a letter was received from the Children’s Minister communicating the lifting of all Directions in respect of the delivery of children’s social care.

Doncaster Children's Services Trust and its operations will be absorbed back into council control.

The Department for Education subsequently withdrew financial support to DCST when the direction was revoked.

The latest Ofsted report shows that DCST has a ‘Good rating’ by Government inspectors.

Coun Blake said the decision was not a financial one despite the council having to shift monetary sums to the organisation as outlined in many quarterly reports over the years.

Coun Blake, said: “For the purpose of the trust and the purpose of the council is to deliver better outcomes for children and young people and we believe by bringing this together back into the Doncaster Council family, we will all achieve the outcomes we want for our children and young people.

“The decision has been taken now based on the work we’ve been doing over the last couple of years.

“As you say, we were in a completely different position and as a council, we’ve worked more closely with the trust and we’ve made the decision that it will deliver better outcomes for children and young people.

“No organisation can say that Covid-19 hasn’t had an impact on the way they’ve worked and it’s made us think very differently.

“But this is not a financial decision at all, it’s about delivering those outcomes and by bringing organisations together reducing the silo working – there is a huge opportunity to deliver.”

History of children’s services in Doncaster

2005-2009

Problems identified by successive Ofsted reports are not addressed.

2009

High profile Edlington case led to government Improvement Board to oversee reforms.

2010

Audit Commission reported Doncaster was not properly run and government ordered three commissioners to be appointed with the power to appoint, discipline and dismiss senior staff.

2011-2012

Despite three years of government intervention, two Ofsted reports rate children’s services as inadequate.

November 2012

Lord Carlile publishes a report on the Edlington Case, which makes wide-ranging recommendations and actions needed.

March 2013

An independent panel headed by Professor Julian Le Grand is asked to report on the future of children’s services in the borough

July 2013

Professor Le Grand publishes a report and ministers agree to take control of all children’s services, except education, away from the council.

January 2018

Trust receives a ‘Good’ Ofsted report following wide-range inspection of services.

February 2019

Mayor and cabinet approves £6 million bailout package for trust following ‘cost pressures’ due to a number of complex cases.

March 2022

Council serves formal notice on DCST and DMBC will run all services from September.