Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Town Hall Plans to Spend Pounds 10m Hiring Scores of Social Workers

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Town Hall Plans to Spend Pounds 10m Hiring Scores of Social Workers

Article excerpt

MANCHESTER town hall plans to spend Pounds 10m hiring scores more social workers to look after vulnerable children ahead of a crucial Ofsted inspection later this year.

The council's safeguarding department - which hasn't been visited since it was branded inadequate in 2014 - is requesting councillors sign off the huge investment from reserves in a few weeks.

It would pay for 66 new frontline social workers and 14 new social work managers and comes just weeks after the council 'urgently' signed off the hiring of 30 other frontline safeguarding staff, at a cost of Pounds 1.5m.

Children's services chiefs say the pace of improvement must 'accelerate' if the department is to pass its Ofsted re-inspection later this year.

They say it has taken 18 months or so to get the correct management structures and systems into place, so the time is now right to expand its workforce. However, they admit the recruitment drive is on a major scale and is needed in order to get caseloads - which were slammed by Ofsted two years ago - down to a manageable level, while cutting the number of children going into care.

New children's services director Paul Marshall says 'much progress has already been made', but says the kind of changes needed 'don't happen overnight.'.

A report going to councillors next week also notes they have already made 'significant' progress, including a new leadership team, a better contact centre for those referring children to the service and a drop in caseloads. But it says there is a need to increase the 'pace and effectiveness' and acknowledges that Ofsted will only lift its improvement notice if the council can demonstrate that.

The Ofsted Improvement Board, which oversees the overhaul, has told the department that change must 'accelerate' in the coming months ahead of an unannounced visit towards the end of the summer. …

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