Birmingham social workers unfit for purpose

A lack of senior management and a “decade of underperformance” at Birmingham City Council led to the death of eight children known to social services, a report has concluded.

The criticism came from the authority’s own councillors, in a report published yesterday. One child, seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq, allegedly starved to death.

According to the report, the council was “unfit for purpose”, with initiatives and projects being launched then abandoned.

One in five social workers was off work sick at any one time, and lack of senior management was identified as a major risk, according to the Times.

The report concluded: “Our findings demonstrated an extremely fragile management structure and the inevitable conclusion is that the current social work model is not fit for purpose.”

Tony Howells, Birmingham’s strategic director for children, young people and families, blamed the need for excessive record keeping for preventing social workers from seeing families.

The report came two days before Sharon Shoesmith, the chief executive at Harringey Council fired following the Baby P scandal, prepared to attend the High Court seeking a judicial review of her sacking. The hearing is set to take place tomorrow (Wednesday 7 October).

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