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Children's minister impressed with council performance

PUBLISHED: 12:10 31 January 2019

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi  (third from left) meets council's top rated officials. Photo: Bexley Council

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi (third from left) meets council's top rated officials. Photo: Bexley Council

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A minister visited Bexley Council's social work teams to see why they reached an Outstanding Ofsted rating.

Nadhim Zahawi is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families.

He was given a first-hand look at the kind of work they deal with every day during the visit on Tuesday.

During his time at the council, staff from the Multi-Agency Safety Hub known as MASH, Child Protection Team, Child Placement and Fostering Teams all spoke with the minister to outline their important work.

He also met Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Philip Read, Chairman of the Children’s and Adults’ Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Cafer Munur and Director of Children’s Services, Jacky Tiotto, during his morning visit.

The teams were able to give the Minister an overview of two typical examples of current work and how the families involved receive support.

He was also able to spend time discussing caseloads with members of staff.

The visit comes as the National Audit Office revealed around 91 per cent of local authorities strayed above budget for children’s social care in 2017-18.

The watchdog said the absence of a “well-informed pathway” may mean the Government falls short of its target to provide every vulnerable child with access to high-quality care by 2022.

After the minister’s meeting at Bexley, Councillor Read said: “It was great to welcome the Under Secretary of State to Bexley and to be able to give him a feel for what our Children’s Services staff practice every day.

“Since our recent ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating we have been able to share our learning with partners and other local authorities. This in turn helps us to continue to learn and develop our service so we can continue to strive to be the best we can for local children and their families.”

The NAO said a “high degree of autonomy” enjoyed by councils in the sector meant noticeably different approaches were being taken with varying levels of expense.

The watchdog said UK councils budgeted £4.2 billion across 2018/19, up £350 million from 2017/18.

The minister said government is working to improve standards.

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