'Disgraced' Birmingham fails to recruit social workers

Keanu Williams Keanu Williams, two, died in 2011 after being found with 37 injuries

Related Stories

More than a quarter of Birmingham's frontline social worker posts are unfilled, city council figures show.

Recruitment drives have failed to reduce vacancies in the department branded a "disgrace" by watchdog Ofsted and rated inadequate since 2009.

The council's director of people services, Peter Hay, said the city was still in a "high-risk situation".

There are 106 vacant posts of 382 in safeguarding teams, the same number that were unfilled last year.

Khyra Ishaq Khyra Ishaq, seven, was starved to death in 2008

'Failing' social services: Timeline

  • May 2008: Khyra Ishaq, 7, starves to death in Handsworth
  • Feb 2009: Council served with improvement notice by government
  • Feb 2010: High Court rules Khyra was "failed by social services"
  • July 2010: Serious case review says Birmingham social services is still failing to protect children
  • Oct 2012: Ofsted rates council's child protection services "inadequate"
  • Oct 2013: Serious case review finds opportunities were missed to save Keanu Williams, 2, who was beaten to death
  • Oct 2013: Ofsted singles out city's children's services as a "national disgrace"
  • Oct 2013: Council admits it has 106 social worker vacancies
  • Dec 2013: Council announces a £10m plan for children's services
  • Mar 2014: Council restructures social services and Lord Warner is appointed independent commissioner

There have been 20 investigations over child deaths in Birmingham since 2007, including those following the deaths of Khyra Ishaq in 2008 and Keanu Williams, in 2011.

'Failing city children'

The service has been restructured since last year, when council figures showed it had a total of 494 frontline social worker posts.

Mr Hay said the new figure included 40 new jobs, which had been created as part of a £10m investment plan announced last December.

He admitted, however, the current vacancy rate of 28% for permanent posts directly affected some teams' "ability to handle capacity".

Temporary agency staff are in place in 61 of the jobs and 45 posts (12%) are completely without cover.

Labour's Anita Ward, chair of the council's education and vulnerable children overview and scrutiny committee, said she feared "we will continue to fail children in this city" as figures showed "very little movement" in recruitment.

Mr Hay said it was a "difficult period for recruitment" and fully expected the council to receive another "inadequate" rating in its forthcoming Ofsted inspection, expected to be published later this month.

He said the council continued to rely on a large number of newly qualified social workers, but some staff were "top-class".

Vince Clark, the council's interim service director, said the authority was "fishing in a small, limited pond" and had to find a way of better recruiting outside the region.

In March, former health minister Lord Warner was appointed as an independent commissioner to oversee improvements in Birmingham's social services department.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country

Weather

Birmingham

19 °C 11 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Wait for passport over 08:39: Birmingham Mail

    A son who feared he would miss the chance to visit his cancer suffering father overseas after waiting nine months for a new passport has finally received the document.

     
  2.  
    Sparkbrook roads 08:28:

    There's water mains work and temporary traffic lights on Raglan Road, in Sparkbrook, between the A441 Pershore Road junction and the Constance Road junction.

    See BBC Travel for more updates.

     
  3.  
    Tory MP to quit 08:18:

    Conservative MP Chris Kelly says he will stand down at the 2015 general election after serving one term.

    Chris Kelly

    In a statement on his website, the Dudley South MP did not give a reason for his decision but said he had been "proud" to serve his constituency.

     
  4.  
    Drier later 08:07:

    It's a dull and murky start with low cloud, hill fog and patchy rain and drizzle. Drier and brighter conditions should slowly spread in from the north west, bringing some warm sunny spells this afternoon.

    Weather forecast
     
  5.  
    Good morning 08:00: Ed Barlow BBC Local Live

    Morning all. I'll be bringing you news, sport, travel and weather from the region from now until 18:00. If you'd like to get in touch you can email locallive@bbc.co.uk.

     

Features

  • Alana Saarinen at pianoMum, Dad and Mum

    The girl with three biological parents


  • Polish and British flags alongside British roadsideWar debt

    Does the UK still feel a sense of obligation towards Poles?


  • Isis fighters in propaganda video footageWho backs IS?

    Where Islamic State finds support to become a formidable force


  • Bride and groom-to-be photographed underwaterWetted bliss

    Chinese couples told to smile, but please hold your breath


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • MoviesWhat to watch

    BBC Culture picks eight top movies coming out in September

Programmes

  • Volcanic eruptionThe Travel Show Watch

    Uncovering the secrets of the Icelandic island buried by a volcanic eruption

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.