An independent trust is to take over the children’s services department of at a West Midlands council.
Edward Timpson, the Minister of State for Children and Families, has ordered Sandwell Council to make plans for the transition by December 1. His letter follows the publication of a report by a government commissioner who had concluded that the authority would be unable to make necessary improvements after three successive Ofsted reports criticised the council’s child protection services.
Social workers employed by Sandwell Council would be transferred to the trust. They have already threatened to go on strike if the plan goes ahead. Council leaders have also expressed opposition. But the Minister insisted that:
“…given your commitment to work constructively with me and my officials, I am optimistic that some reassurance can be provided quite quickly on a number of points related to trusts, including – for instance – the terms and conditions on which social workers transfer to a trust.”
“Making a fresh start” would bring benefits both to the social workers themselves and to vulnerable children in the region, he added.