Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health
Today, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) published its report (external link) of the planned inspection it undertook, in July this year, of Powys County Council’s Children’s Social Services (external link). The inspection identified a significant number of serious concerns and a wide range of shortcomings.
CSSIW’s inspection focused on the quality of leadership, management, and governance arrangements to develop and support services for children and young people. The inspection examined how children and families access help, care and support services, and considered the quality of outcomes achieved for children in need of assistance, care and support and/or protection of children including those looked after by the local authority.
I have serious concerns about Powys Children’s Services and I am today issuing a Warning Notice to Powys County Council. This is a serious step, but the report’s findings are such that they require strong action to be taken.
The warning notice (external link) is issued under Part 8 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, sections 150-161. The notice includes:
- a requirement to prepare and submit a delivery focused Improvement Plan, setting out short term and long term milestones and for this plan to be published within 20 days from today. A timeframe for improvement for each recommendation will be included in the Improvement Plan
- a requirement to establish an Improvement Board to oversee the plan
- a requirement to appoint an interim Director of Social Services; and
- a requirement to develop a strategy to fill vacancies in Children’s Social Services all within a specified period.
I have met with the Leader and Chief Executive of Powys County Council to emphasise the seriousness with which the Welsh Government is approaching this situation, and to discuss the requirements of the Notice. I believe the Notice provides a focus and structure within set timescales for the Council to address the issues identified in the CSSIW inspection. Powys County Council has accepted the findings of the inspection report and is now preparing an Improvement Plan.
The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 requires Welsh Ministers to lay a copy of the Warning Notice with the National Assembly for Wales within 21 days of issue to Powys County Council and then report to the National Assembly for Wales within 90 days of giving the Notice on the action taken by the Council. In response to these requirements, I have laid a copy of the Notice today and will provide Members with an update on progress within 90 days.
If I am not satisfied with Powys County Council’s progress in complying with the Warning Notice, I will not hesitate to use the powers provided to Welsh Government under the Social Services and Wellbeing Act to intervene more directly.