Chief executive apologises over 'awful' inspectors' report into children's services in Hull

Hull's Guildhall
Hull's Guildhall
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Managers were forced to take action after inspectors discovered children at risk of harm during a visit to a Yorkshire council, where services have “significantly declined”.

Hull Council is making “insufficient progress” in improving services for children in care, the watchdog Oftsed found, with managers at “every level” branded “ineffective” at responding to the crisis.

On Thursday both chief executive Matt Jukes and leader Coun Steve Brady apologised for the failings, with Mr Jukes admitting it was an “awful” report.

Last year the government issued an Improvement Notice after an Ofsted visit rated children’s services inadequate overall, warning that if improvements were not made by 2020 there could be further intervention by the secretary of state.

However the latest two-day inspection in January revealed that children’s services were continuing to deteriorate and shortfalls had not been properly rectified.

Managers had to take “immediate protective actions” after inspectors raised concerns about the welfare of five children during the visit.

Oftsed found the council under huge pressure with numbers of children in care rising at a rate more than double the national average, with some left for too long in situations “where they experience harm from longstanding neglect”.

There are not enough local homes for children, meaning some end up in places which are “unsuitable and unregulated”.

Senior leaders were blasted for showing “insufficent challenge” to drive improvements and managers for failing to “identify and escalate issues of concern”.

On Thursday Mr Jukes said they were waiting to hear from the Department for Education as to what action they might take.

Former chief executive of Slough Children’s Services Trust Niki Clemo has been appointed as director of children’s services.

Mr Jukes said: “We sincerely apologise. We absolutely accept this is an awful report and we fully accept the findings.

“We took immediate action in relation to the five cases that Oftsed raised to satisfy ourselves and Oftsed that children were safe.”

He expects Ms Clemo to be with the authority “for at least 12 months”, adding: “I have confidence looking at her track record and speaking to others who have known her and worked with her.”

Mr Jukes said after last year’s full Ofsted inspection progress was made.

However “after three or four months that has slipped back not only to where we were but further back,” he said.

“We accept the report fully we are not disagreeing with any of it,” he added. “The approach we were taking has not worked.”

The Department for Education said they would set out next steps for the council in due course. An advisor is already in place.

A statement added: “All children should be protected from abuse and neglect, and we will not hesitate to intervene where children are let down by the services designed to protect them.

“We are reviewing the Ofsted monitoring report and will work with our advisor in Hull to take action and drive forward changes that create the excellence we want to see across children’s services.”