PM tells Norfolk children’s services: ‘Improve or be taken over’

Prime Minister David Cameron made a visit to Lancing this afternoon SUS-150918-152925001
Prime Minister David Cameron made a visit to Lancing this afternoon SUS-150918-152925001

A troubleshooter has today been appointed to oversee Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department, amid government warnings it will be taken over if it does not improve quickly.

Dave Hill, who heads children’s services for Essex County Council, will start work as commissioner for the department immediately in a bid to turn things around.

The measure is one of three similar appointments to struggling social services units that were announced by the prime minister, David Cameron this morning.

He said: “Children’s services support the most vulnerable children in our society. They are in our care; we, the state, are their parents; and we are failing them.

“It is our duty to put this right; to say poorly performing local authorities: improve, or be taken over. We will not stand by while children are let down by inadequate social services.

“It shows how serious we are about confronting state failure and tackling some the biggest social problems in our country. Together we will make sure that not a single child is left behind.”

Michael Rosen, director of Norfolk County Council’s children’s services, said the authority had been made aware of the government’s intentions in a letter last week.

He said: “Dave Hill has a strong track record in leading improvement in Children’s Services in Essex and is someone who knows Norfolk well.

“I have every confidence in his appointment and believe he will see that we are a rapidly improving authority with all the commitment, skills and knowledge necessary to make the progress required.

“I agree with the Prime Minister that our role as a corporate parent is of crucial importance. The extra support Mr Hill will bring can only be helpful in further improving prospects for looked after children.”

Mr Rosen said Ofsted had recognised the improvements made in the department and further progress is being made.

The authority has launched a leaving care programme to support youngsters as they make their first steps into adulthood and figures revealed last week showed looked-after children in Norfolk is well above the national average.

Mr Rosen added: “We want the Commissioner to help us build on what is an increasingly bright outlook, so that we go on to develop outstanding services for children and families in Norfolk.”