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Social Services: Children

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which local authority children’s services were placed in special measures in each of the last five years. (241894)

‘Special measures’ is not a term that the Department uses with reference to its engagement with local authority children’s services. Ministers may take action to engage with and intervene in local authorities where there is evidence of weakness in performance, for example as the result of ‘inadequate’ Ofsted judgment(s) in annual performance assessments (APAs) and joint area reviews (JARs). Such intervention can take various forms, from offering external improvement support, enhanced monitoring and challenge through to issuing an improvement notice (IN) in more serious cases. In the most serious cases, the Secretary of State may decide to make use of his statutory powers of direction and intervention.

In the last five years, Ministers have made use of their statutory powers of direction in relation to north-east Lincolnshire (2005), Stoke-on-Trent (2007) and Haringey (2008), and have issued improvement notices to Salford, Leicester City and Surrey. We have also intervened without the use of statutory powers or improvement notices in various local authorities, deploying a range of improvement support options, including external consultancy support teams, independently-chair improvement boards and enhanced monitoring arrangements. These authorities were:

2004-05

Swindon

Barnsley

Cumbria

2005-06

Sandwell

Staffordshire

2006-07

Bristol

Isle of Wight

Peterborough

Plymouth

Devon

Herefordshire

Medway

2007-08

Dorset

Hertfordshire

Thurrock

2008-09

Oxfordshire

Lancashire