The Government has ordered Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to make urgent improvements to its children’s social care services following ‘serious’ concerns over how it protects vulnerable children.
A joint inspectorates’ report published last week found children in need of help and protection in Solihull wait too long for their initial assessment. The report was commissioned following the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The Department for Education has now issued the council with an improvement notice following ‘serious practice concerns’ and evidence of ‘unassessed and unknown risk’.
The council has been ordered to implement an improvement plan that will deliver ‘appropriate and sustainable’ improvement.
The DfE will review progress against the improvement plan at least every six months and has appointed an improvement advisor to assist the council with the changes.
The notice warns ministers may intervene at the council or direct it to enter into an appropriate arrangement if it fails to make the necessary improvements.
Cllr Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, said: 'The Council recognised the urgency of the situation and we have already set up an Improvement Board. This will drive through the necessary changes, as outlined in the recent Joint Target Area Inspection (JTAI), in both Solihull’s Local Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP) and within the organisations that make up the Partnership – the Council, West Midlands Police, Birmingham & Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group and Probation Services.
'We welcome the extra support and guidance the Department for Education is providing to us through its Improvement Notice and the appointment of Gladys Rhodes-White as their Improvement Adviser, who will also to join our Improvement Board.
'The Improvement Board, which will be chaired by the experienced Penny Thompson CBE, will support, oversee, and importantly challenge partner organisations with responsibility for safeguarding children, on their progress in delivering an updated Improvement Plan.'