Social services failing to meet legal obligations

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MANY SOCIAL service departments are failing to meet the needs of children, vulnerable adults and elderly people in their care, with one in 10 performing so poorly that it is on an "at risk" register.

In a government review of 150 social service departments in England, a picture of inconsistent quality was revealed, with many failing to meet their statutory obligations.

John Hutton, a Health minister, said yesterday that the Government would not tolerate poor standards and would send "hit squads" to take over departments that failed to improve care by next April. "There are some authorities doing really well, but there are some where that is simply not happening. The scale of the variation is quite remarkable and unacceptable," Mr Hutton said.

"At any one time 1.5 million people use social services, spending pounds 9bn a year. We need to get better performance out of that expenditure and tackle inconsistency."

The Government has identified 17 failing social service departments - including Lambeth, Bury, Buckinghamshire and Coventry - which stand to lose part of their services next year to better performing neighbouring departments if they do not meet national standards.

The departments were assessed against 35 performance indicators, including inspections of children's homes, the number of times children were moved between foster homes, and the proportion of elderly, disabled and mentally ill adults receiving help so they could remain at home.

Four out of 10 departments failed to fulfil statutory obligations requiring them to inspect the homes of children and elderly people. In three authorities - Bury, North Lincolnshire and Southend-on-Sea - only half of the children's homes were inspected.

The report showed that on average, one in 10 children on the child protection register did not have their case reviewed when it should have been. Eight authorities assessed less than two-thirds of cases, and 10 authorities were not able to provide information.

Children's charities said yesterday it was unacceptable that only 33 of the 150 authorities reviewed all child protection cases.

Mike Taylor, director of child care at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "Children on the child protection register face, or have already suffered, appalling cruelty and neglect. Placing them on a register and leaving them there without review is not child protection, it's child limbo-land."

There was also a wide variation in the number of times a child in care was moved between foster homes. In Kirklees, Nottingham, Wokingham, Lambeth and Hounslow, less than one-quarter of children stayed with one foster family for more than two years.

"Children who are being looked after by local authorities need to be in settled places," Mr Hutton said. "Yet only half of the children who have been in care for over four years have stayed with the same foster family for more than two years. It's a major problem."

The access to social service care varied widely around the country. In Hackney, only 26 per cent of those in need received an assessment, compared with averages of 71 per cent in London and 77 per cent nationally. Many authorities - including Calderdale, Wigan, Cheshire and Stoke-on- Trent - assessed 100 per cent of those requiring help.

As well, the review showed that the elderly were more likely to receive help to stay at home in urban areas than rural parts. In London, however, help varied widely, with twice as many elderly people in the borough of Greenwich receiving assistance from social services as those in Lambeth.

FAILING SOCIAL SERVICE DEPARTMENTS

Hillingdon

Barking and

Dagenham

Hackney

Ealing

Lambeth

Barnsley

Cambridgeshire

NorthEast Lincolnshire

Peterborough

Sheffield

Bury

Buckinghamshire

Coventry

Kingston upon Hull

Sefton

Wirral

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

HOW THE AUTHORITIES COMPARE

% children looked % children aged

after with 3 or under 10 years

more placements in family placements

% children looked after adopted from local authority care

Metropolitan Districts % inspections of residential care homes for children carried out 18-64 yr olds with mental health problems helped to live at home per 1000 18-64 yr olds with mental health problems helped to live at home per 1000 Elderly

people helped to live at home per 1000 aged 65+ Elderly

people helped to live at home per 1000 aged 65+

Barnsley 26 71 4.5 100 1.3 59

Birmingham 7 77 4.1 93 1.8 92

Bolton 11 79 8.7 100 1.7 68

Bradford 22 89 8.8 100 1.5 64

Bury 11 67 3.8 50 1.6 66

Calderdale 18 83 4.5 92 0.4 83

Coventry 11 70 2.3 63 1.1 56

Doncaster 19 76 3.8 100 0.4 94

Dudley 13 75 3.0 100 1.0 86

Gateshead 20 80 2.9 100 1.7 81

Kirklees 23 65 3.9 100 1.3 57

Knowsley 9 69 2.9 100 2.3 76

Leeds 14 77 5.5 100 0.6 171

Liverpool 17 71 1.1 100 1.1 94

Manchester 23 79 2.3 100 1.4 76

Newcastle upon Tyne 12 85 5.4 95 0.7 76

North Tyneside 8 75 3.9 100 0.8 88

Oldham 11 83 5.6 100 3.0 88

Rochdale 14 76 7.4 83 2.0 87

Rotherham 19 78 7.2 100 2.6 75

Salford 18 66 1.7 100 1.9 125

Sandwell 9 83 3.0 100 1.6 62

Sefton 14 53 3.0 100 0.5 57

Sheffield 18 71 5.6 100 0.8 55

Solihull 23 76 1.2 .. 0.4 62

South Tyneside 6 71 3.4 100 1.9 128

St. Helens 12 73 3.5 100 1.1 82

Stockport 5 54 2.1 100 0.5 68

Sunderland 25 75 5.7 100 0.7 96

Tameside 26 74 4.5 100 2.0 114

Trafford 11 70 5.6 100 2.1 107

Wakefield 25 79 6.7 100 0.7 79

Walsall 21 82 2.9 100 0.8 58

Wigan 10 72 4.6 100 0.3 87

Wirral 20 86 2.3 100 1.0 59

Wolverhampton 20 82 2.9 88 1.6 124

Shire Counties

Bedfordshire 14 83 4.3 92 0.1 41

Buckinghamshire 10 84 3.8 100 2.2 56

Cambridgeshire 22 85 5.5 100 0.5 46

Cheshire 18 87 2.1 100 0.7 46

Cornwall 7 77 2.9 75 2.7 59

Cumbria 2 82 3.2 100 1.2 58

Derbyshire 8 90 3.5 81 1.4 144

Devon 3 67 1.7 100 0.8 54

Dorset 13 95 4.7 100 0.3 64

Durham 24 73 2.7 100 1.4 84

East Sussex 22 82 4.3 100 0.9 55

Essex 20 75 3.8 79 0.6 48

Gloucestershire 8 80 2.1 91 0.9 47

Hampshire 15 77 4.5 100 0.5 44

Hertfordshire 6 88 5.1 83 1.5 41

Isles of Scilly . . .. - 0.9 22

Kent 7 85 3.0 91 0.9 62

Lancashire 17 74 3.6 100 0.6 69

Leicestershire 16 87 8.6 100 1.6 58

Lincolnshire 32 80 7.6 92 0.7 76

Norfolk 19 92 3.5 100 0.7 51

North Yorkshire 8 75 4.0 100 2.3 62

Northamptonshire 34 82 2.7 100 1.4 61

Northumberland 19 68 5.4 100 1.8 94

Nottinghamshire 25 90 8.2 100 2.0 67

Oxfordshire 16 88 4.0 60 1.3 85

Shropshire 19 96 6.6 97 3.8 58

Somerset 20 91 6.9 100 1.4 62

Staffordshire 11 76 5.1 100 0.2 88

Suffolk 21 72 4.2 100 0.3 46

Surrey 13 79 4.1 100 0.6 36

Warwickshire 22 84 0.8 100 0.2 60

West Sussex 14 94 6.7 100 0.7 50

Wiltshire 17 91 5.1 100 0.8 59

Worcestershire 12 82 2.2 63 1.2 51

Unitary Authorities

Bath and North East Somerset 11 93 0.7 .. 1.4 56

Blackburn with Darwen 13 67 5.6 95 1.6 98

Blackpool .. .. .. 100 2.5 67

Bournemouth 32 74 4.4 100 1.2 62

Bracknell Forest 11 67 5.7 100 0.1 58

Brighton and Hove 27 99 3.5 100 1.9 70

Bristol 16 76 5.7 82 1.3 79

Darlington 5 86 1.5 100 0.2 44

Derby 17 88 2.2 100 0.9 138

East Riding of Yorkshire 16 78 4.5 100 0.3 56

Halton 22 87 1.4 .. 0.6 38

Hartlepool 4 54 12.5 100 1.8 62

Herefordshire 13 81 2.4 60 0.8 48

Isle of Wight 14 92 8.2 .. 2.9 70

Kingston upon Hull 23 72 5.3 100 0.9 69

Leicester 25 91 5.6 100 1.0 69

Luton 8 73 3.4 100 1.8 86

Medway Towns 13 85 4.1 100 2.2 78

Middlesbrough 31 80 10.9 100 1.4 71

Milton Keynes 4 82 3.8 100 0.7 70

North East Lincolnshire 11 59 5.4 .. 0.7 63

North Lincolnshire 14 80 7.9 50 1.1 64

North Somerset 21 82 7.9 100 0.6 57

Nottingham 24 89 4.4 100 0.6 97

Peterborough 8 92 5.8 100 0.4 40

Plymouth 15 79 5.0 100 1.2 47

Poole 14 88 3.4 98 0.8 40

Portsmouth 19 80 2.2 100 0.4 68

Reading 15 83 0.7 78 1.3 82

Redcar and Cleveland 27 94 6.1 100 1.7 82

Rutland 57 - - .. 0.1 72

Slough 29 80 1.6 100 0.2 83

South Gloucestershire 15 84 3.1 80 0.2 52

Southampton 17 84 6.6 100 1.0 71

Southend-on-Sea 17 100 5.1 50 0.4 29

Stockton-on-Tees 16 90 5.6 100 2.0 50

Stoke-on-Trent 8 84 2.6 100 2.2 101

Swindon 12 82 1.6 100 1.3 69

Telford and the Wrekin 15 87 5.6 80 7.5 77

Thurrock 20 85 2.9 100 0.5 54

Torbay 12 62 3.6 75 0.0 33

Warrington 17 88 9.0 100 1.0 47

West Berkshire 4 80 0.8 94 0.8 60

Windsor and Maidenhead 9 89 8.0 100 0.6 60

Wokingham 11 74 7.5 93 1.0 66

York 26 84 9.6 100 1.4 87

Inner London

Camden 15 84 5.7 100 3.0 117

City of London - 100 - .. 1.1 144

Greenwich 10 78 3.8 90 0.6 104

Hackney 11 88 1.7 86 1.7 172

Hammersmith and Fulham 16 91 1.8 100 1.7 131

Islington 11 88 1.7 100 4.1 90

Kensington and Chelsea 13 85 2.7 100 2.3 87

Lambeth 8 27 0.6 100 0.7 78

Lewisham 19 78 2.1 100 1.2 95

Southwark 7 84 1.3 100 3.0 156

Tower Hamlets 7 91 3.2 100 1.9 149

Wandsworth 18 92 5.5 100 1.8 118

Westminster 9 84 5.1 100 2.3 77

Outer London

Barking and Dagenham 6 68 4.1 100 9.4 196

Barnet 20 88 0.5 100 0.9 60

Bexley 10 81 2.7 100 2.9 78

Brent 24 80 5.6 100 3.0 116

Bromley 13 64 3.5 100 0.8 75

Croydon 8 78 2.2 77 3.0 75

Ealing 8 78 0.8 75 0.9 130

Enfield 15 86 3.5 100 0.6 46

Haringey 9 98 1.4 100 3.1 75

Harrow 16 82 2.1 100 2.4 69

Havering 18 84 - 100 1.0 69

Hillingdon 14 96 1.3 100 2.6 65

Hounslow 12 78 5.0 100 1.4 70

Kingston upon Thames 13 81 5.0 100 2.5 78

Merton 7 69 1.5 100 1.1 82

Newham 19 90 1.2 100 0.8 136

Redbridge 13 88 4.8 100 2.0 98

Richmond upon Thames 11 75 2.1 100 1.5 91

Sutton 18 80 13.7 100 0.6 100

Waltham Forest 10 90 1.5 100 2.0 75

Comments