Ofsted failings ‘brought sense of shame’ claims opposition deputy leader

Children being deemed to be at risk of harm while under the care of Liverpool Council left “a sense of deep shame for everyone,” it has been claimed.

In a damning report last year, Ofsted said the local authority’s services for young people were deemed to be “inadequate” citing serious weaknesses that left children “being harmed or at risk of harm.” Progress continues to be made in response to the findings as senior leaders warn it could take up to three years to get the city’s offer to an outstanding level.

Amid this work going on, a leading opposition member has described the impact they felt the shocking assessment had on the city.

Before Christmas, education officials conducted their first inspection since their inspection last year. Cllr Liz Parsons, cabinet member for children’s services, gave an update to the children and young people scrutiny committee on work so far and laid out timescales expected.

She said, “None of this is going to be a quick fix, we’re looking at three years to get where we want to be. We want the best for our children.”

Cllr Parsons confirmed a fresh monitoring visit would take place next week, “quicker than I’d like” but said it was “clear” the department needed to take. Jenny Turnross, corporate director of children’s services, said the initial findings that children were no longer at harm was a “huge leap forward”.

This was met with a frank response from Cllr Liz Makinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, who said the assessment left “a sense of deep shame for everyone.” The Calderstones member also took umbrage at the amount being paid to private foster carers in the city.

A committee report outlined how currently 346 children across Liverpool are in private foster care at an average weekly fee of £977.76. Cllr Makinson said owing to a lack of change to fees for local authority foster carers for nine years, potential carers are more likely to opt for a private provider.

The council’s own report said how a “reliance on third-party markets, dominated by the Private Sector is a high-risk strategy that has to date failed Liverpool.”

She said, “The council needs to pay its foster carers a more competitive rate. If the rate was doubled overnight, it would still be less than half the cost of the private sector.  

“We are being fleeced by the private sector. We could send the kids to Eton for the same money this is costing.

“It seems like setting up in-house care home keeps stalling, it’s a worrying situation.”

Cllr Parsons responded, “There’s nothing you’ve said that I disagree with. What we want to see is kids going to local provisions that keeps them local to their communities. 

“While I feel your frustration, it has to be right, I can’t rush that. It’s not a piece of work that will be done quickly, because it has to be the right outcomes.”

Graham Hallows, business consultant on health and social care, attempted to offer a perspective on changing the system. He said, “It’s relatively easy to say we have some property and want to develop children’s homes.

“You have to make decisions on the type of care you want to deliver. It doesn’t work like that, it blocks the system.”

Corporate director Ms Turnross added, “There are a lot of children and we need to get it right. We need to work with more authentic and genuine providers. 

“Sometimes you’ve got to invest in services to reap the benefits.”

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