We are working to make sure that more local authorities are rated as outstanding, with fewer failing, and we are also strengthening the social work profession. As was set out in our manifesto, we will undertake a bold, independent review of our children’s social care system so that we can go even further to provide children with the support that they need.
In Buckinghamshire, our hard-working social workers travel around 1 million miles a year to undertake statutory visits and court attendances. That is considerably more than occurs in urban environments, especially as the family court is now out of area. What further steps can my right hon. Friend take to ensure that children’s social services are fully supported in rural communities?
My hon. Friend raises an important point. That is why we have committed to putting an extra £1 billion into children and adults’ social care. I would be happy to speak to him about what more we can do to support rural counties and the delivery of these vital services.
If the Secretary of State really is serious about improving children’s social care, can he explain why a letter sent to him in January, which was signed by 631 experts and myself, to request an independent, whole-system review has been completely ignored?
I will certainly take up the issue of why that correspondence was not responded to immediately. I am sure that the hon. Lady recognises that it was within our manifesto—we have already announced it—that there will be an independent review looking at the care system for our children, and that is something that she will perhaps welcome.
Children’s social care in Northamptonshire had been failing for some time such that the Government set up a children’s commissioner to guide the service into an independent children’s trust. This is an extremely serious issue for Northamptonshire. Will the Secretary of State ensure that the children’s trust has the resources it needs to sort the system out?
We will certainly undertake to make that commitment. The challenges in Northamptonshire were grave, and it was right that the Government decided to take the action that they did to ensure that we have the very highest quality of services for all children in the county.