Improvements in children’s social care are being made at the city council, but doubt has been cast on the impact of cabinet member Sheila Scott.
A report, that will go before a scrutiny committee on Monday, shows the progress being made under interim director of children’s services Malcolm Newsam as the department recovers from two inadequate Ofsted reports and criticism for its handling of the Tyler Whelan murder case.
The backlog of social care referrals has been eradicated between December and April, and in April 100 per cent of initial assessments were completed within the 10-day target.
Council leader Marco Cereste made the controversial decision to retain Cllr Scott as his cabinet member for children’s services last month, stating she has taken the steps to change the failing department.
But this contention has been called into question by two opposition councillors, Liberal Democrat Asif Shaheed and Labour’s Nabil Shabbir, who both sit on a task and finish group set up to oversee the improvements in the department.
Cllr Shabbir said: “I’ve been to several meetings of the group now but little or no mention has been made of Cllr Scott.
“All the change has come from Malcolm Newsam.”
In response, Cllr Scott said: “We have Mr Newsam in for operational issues so you’d expect him to be driving the change, but as the cabinet member I’m scrutinising in my own way all the work that is going on and am very closely involved.”
Cllr Cereste said: “She is the one driving Malcolm Newsam. She is the cabinet member and Mr Newsam works to her direction and with her. Anything that comes from him, comes from her and our strategy.”
Mention of the council’s “strategy” was criticised by Cllr Shaheed, who said: “If that’s the case, why was it John Richards, the former children’s services director, who fell on his sword alone and not Cllr Scott when the council’s strategy failed last year?”