There are ‘widespread and serious failings’ in children’s services at Croydon Council according to a September 2017 report by OFSTED. The education watchdog inspected the authority's children's services this summer and found them to be ‘inadequate’. Inspectors said some children are left at risk of "significant harm" because of the failures. The work which falls under children's services includes children in the care of the council, living in the likes of care homes or with foster parents.
It has been argued by local blogs and groups friendly to the Labour-run Council that these failings have been caused by cuts made by the Conservative government to local authorities, and that these cuts have resulted in councils not being able to provide adequate public services.
However, this is not supported by the evidence. For example, nowhere in the 39 page OFSTED report is this mentioned as a reason - or excuse - for the shocking findings. Nor is it mentioned in any other OFSTED report that has highlighted the failings of children’s services in Birmingham, Tower Hamlets and Barnet. In those reports, as with the report into the failings at Croydon, the culpability rests with the leadership, management, and oversight of children’s services.
This is the first time that Croydon has failed an inspection. Moreover, the report is even more damning than the one revealing the failure of Birmingham children’s services. The last time that it was reviewed (in 2012), social services in Croydon were rated as ‘good’ and ‘adequate’, and the 2012 report pointed out that social services in Croydon were improving. The September 2017 report points out that the service has declined significantly since the 2012 inspection.
Instead of blaming cuts, the report pointed to 'weak managerial oversight at all levels' leading to a 'significant deterioration in the quality of service provision.'
In all then, the September 2017 OFSTED report is a damning indictment of the leadership of Croydon Council. The leadership and its supporters have refused to accept responsibility for their shocking failure to provide adequate support and protection for the most vulnerable people in society. Instead, they have chosen to blame the government for a lack of funding that is not supported by the evidence. In similar reports in Birmingham, Tower Hamlets, and Barnet, lack of funding is never blamed. Moreover, in the September 2017 report into Croydon, lack of funding is not mentioned in any of its 39 pages and 21 recommendations.