The Telegraph is reporting that a task force will be formed to review all areas of social work including including leadership, training and recruitment following the cases of Baby P and Shannon Matthews.
This is typical of the way Labour handles any difficulties it faces in Government. The answer to any problem or concern is always to order a review which makes numerous recommendations, which is then followed by new and complex legislation leading to a complete overhaul of the existing system at huge financial costs and often demoralising employees. Ministers refuse to show any leadership and look to others to provide answers deflecting all questions by monotonously repeating the line that we should wait for the findings from the review.
After the Victoria Climbie case there was a major overhaul of children’s services with restructuring of existing departments in local authorities, new multi agency bodies being established and a whole raft of recommendations introduced by new legislation being hurriedly implemented. Some four years later more reviews have been commissioned which no doubt will make more recommendations and lead to more changes in working practices. Had this been done by a new Government, we could have given it the benefit of doubt but when it is being done by a Party that has been in power for 12 years, how can we have any confidence that it knows what it is doing?
What Ed Balls should have done is talked to social workers himself to determine what is actually happening in their profession. A typical response would have been similar to the response I received here from an experienced manager of social workers. He doesn’t need another review, he needs to ensure the recommendations in Lord Laming’s report are followed and make the welfare of vulnerable children a priority and not Government targets and financial considerations as has been alleged. It requires everyone from the Minister to social workers to constantly monitor that best practices are being followed and not give the impression that they are only responding after tragic events have occurred.
And where does the commissioning of reviews stop and how many reviews does Ed Balls want? We have one by Lord Laming into the death of Baby P, another into the contact social services had in the Shannon Matthews case, the one announced today as well as the interim report that he received last week in the Baby P case – far too many for effective governance of any service, let alone one dealing with vulnerable children. His actions are an abdication of ministerial responsibility and admissions that he simply doesn’t know what is happening in his own department.