25th June 2013
Jamie Reed, Member of Parliament for Copeland, has reacted to the OFSTED report on the inspection of Cumbria County Council’s arrangements for the protection of Children. He said:
“On the whole, this report paints a damning picture of Cumbria County Council’s ability to protect children. I have raised this issue with the Council on numerous occasions, and today’s report means that these concerns can no-longer be down-played.
“It should be noted that Inspectors did find some good practice and the job of everyone who cares about the protection of vulnerable children in Cumbria is to now work to ensure that every child can access that good practice. However, this cannot detract from the fact that in every area in which it was inspected, Cumbria County Council received the worst possible rating of ‘inadequate’.
“The report details the Council’s inability to help children that it knew were in danger, it records how unqualified workers were asked to help with child protection and it makes frequent mention of the huge pressure on front line services.
“The most telling part of the report states: ‘Leaders in the council, elected members and members of partnership boards cannot be confident that all children known to Cumbria County Council are adequately protected.’
“This is an intolerable situation and every member and officer of the Council involved in these services must work to resolve this situation rapidly.
“The report also states that Cumbria County Council is ëoverly optimisticí about the nature of the service it provides.
“Sadly, Cumbria County Council’s Children’s Services Department has spent significant amounts of time and resource in recent years fighting against secondary school changes in West Cumbria, including the development of Academy Schools and the location of a University Technical College between Whitehaven and Workington. This same department – already shorn of resources after cuts from central government – needs to get a grip and put the interests of the people and children of Cumbria above its own self-serving corporate interests.
“I have asked all Cumbrian MPs to follow me in writing to Michael Gove and Eric Pickles asking for assistance for the County Council to help it address these failings. With local government rumoured to be facing further cuts of 10% from George Osborne this week, services such as child protection look set to be put under even further pressure. These services cannot be run on a shoe-string and if government persists with the fantasy of believing that they can it is the most vulnerable Cumbrian children who will suffer as a result.”