Union fears takeover of children’s services

The Edlington boys' torture case has been among problems affecting Doncaster children's services
The Edlington boys' torture case has been among problems affecting Doncaster children's services

Union leaders have expressed ‘grave concern’ for jobs after the Government announced a new independent trust is to take over children’s services in Doncaster.

Education Secretary Michael Gove this week decided Doncaster Council could not sort out the ‘legacy of failure’ which has tainted the borough since the deaths of seven children prompted a series of serious case reviews.

The announcement by the Department for Education is a major disappointment to Doncaster’s new mayor, Ros Jones, who feels they have not been given time to turn things round since failing an Ofsted inspection last November.

The report and recommendation by a panel of experts also angered the public service union, Unison, who fear the disruption the changeover will cause to 700 staff.

Melanie Onn, regional organiser, said: “Unison will be at the forefront of engagement with the new trust to ensure that all due consideration is given to staff who are currently already facing cuts to budgets, restructures and staffing reductions and to support those staff to minimise any disruption they may experience.

“It is of grave concern to Unison that the report refers to making staff redundant who are ‘not needed’ given that many of the problems are due to lack of resources. We will do all in our power to protect the jobs of our members.

“Unison members in these services have been working incredibly hard under very difficult circumstances for a number of years. They are currently overly-reliant on agency staff at both social worker and manager levels and remain overwhelmed by their caseloads.”

Mrs Jones told yesterday’s council cabinet meeting of her disappointment with the Government’s decision. “This is Michael Gove’s decision and this council will work with whoever is needed to bring about improvements in the service. Government intervention dates back to 2009 and many of the improvements we have seen were not on its watch.

“This council brought in people of national importance to drive children’s services forward and we intend to keep our eye on the ball and continue driving forward improvements until the new system is in place.”