Northants Council Leader must resign after reviews into toddler murders – Andrew Gwynne
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, responding to the news that Northants Council has been strongly criticised by two serious case reviews into the murders of toddlers, said:
“My thoughts are with the family of the two children involved in this tragic case. Losing a child is an awful trauma.
“A decade after the tragic death of Baby P and vulnerable young people are still being failed, a situation made worse by years of Government cuts to the services that are there to prevent these tragedies from happening.
“There have been repeated failures in children’s services in Northamptonshire since 2013 and there is now no question: Council Leader Matt Golby has to go. He failed when he was in charge of children’s services, and he’s failed since taking over the Council. The people of Northants need to be reassured that vulnerable children in the county will be protected. And the County Council must immediately restore the funding that it has cut from children’s services.”
Notes to editors:
On May 14th, a report into children’s services at the authority was published that said the service is ‘still very fragile and there remain unacceptable risks in the system’.
The report also states:
There has been a prevalent culture of complacency within the management of the service and this is also underpinned by a lack of accountability or consequence for poor performance.
The service is still very fragile and there remain unacceptable risks in the system and members and senior leaders will need to demonstrate determined prioritisation and urgency to address these quickly.
There is some considerable way to go before the very basics of professional social work standards are in place in Northamptonshire. Some teams continue to demonstrate poor compliance, and this cannot be adequately explained by the high workloads within the service.
Long-standing weaknesses in the approach to attracting and retaining the workforce has caused significant vacancies across the service for vulnerable children. This had been exacerbated by the levels of remuneration for social workers which have been significantly less than many other councils in the region.
The council is presently struggling to recruit either agency or permanent staff to many of its teams, particularly in Northampton, and this leads to constant concerns about unallocated high key work.
The safeguarding service remains constantly challenged by staff departing and experiences constant difficulty in allocating cases swiftly and to an appropriately experienced worker.
In April 2019, Northamptonshire were highly criticised after appointing a new director of children’s services on an excessive salary at a time when it was making cuts to budgets. Sally Hodges receives £258,000 as an annual salary, becoming the highest paid senior officer at the authority. Unions criticised the move after staff were informed that they will not receive a pay rise this year: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-47827656