‘Shambolic’ - what the opposition said about Sunderland’s latest children’s services report

Council bosses need to ‘stop blaming the government’ and take responsibility for Sunderland’s ‘shambolic’ children’s services, opposition groups have said.

Sunderland received its second damning Ofsted report since 2015 this morning, with inspectors noting only modest improvements in most areas.

Conservative Coun Robert Oliver, left, and Lib Dem Coun Stephen O' Brien have spoken about the latest critical report on Sunderland's children's services.

Conservative Coun Robert Oliver, left, and Lib Dem Coun Stephen O' Brien have spoken about the latest critical report on Sunderland's children's services.

The findings also noted that Sunderland City Council had not done enough to hold the service to account.

Coun Robert Oliver, leader of the council’s opposition Conservative Party, said: “Vulnerable children in Sunderland are still not being properly protected nearly three years after the first report found that Children’s Services was inadequate in the city.

“It is clear that the political leadership of the council does not have a firm enough grip on the service, and is overseeing slow progress at an enormous cost to the taxpayer.

“Other councils have responded more quickly and turned around their children’s services much more effectively, so the political leadership in the city must stop blaming the government.”

Read more: Bosses ‘disappointed’ over latest damning report into inadequate children’s services in Sunderland

In April 2017, responsibility for children’s services in the city was handed to Together for Children (TfC), a specially-formed organisation independent from the council.

Ofsted’s report said governance arrangements between the two had not ‘provided sufficient challenge and scrutiny’.

However, it also noted this situation had begun to improve since November 2017.

But Sunderland’s other opposition party, the Liberal Democrats, remain critical of the council’s leadership on the issue.

Coun Stephen O’Brien said: “Children’s Services has been in a shambolic state for three years.

“It has received very little direction from the political leadership of our Labour-run council.

“Over this time, the Liberal Democrats on Sunderland City Council have constantly called for more action, more scrutiny, more efficiency, and better management.

“This has simply not happened. Enough is enough.”

Read more: Children’s services in Sunderland: A guide by numbers
 

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service