Medway Labour and Cooperative Group today criticised Conservative Medway Council as Ofsted warned again that services for children were still not good enough.  This followed Ofsted’s monitoring visit held in May which focused on care leavers.  The continuing struggle of the Conservative administration to provide a good level of services for vulnerable Medway children follows an inspection judgement of ‘Inadequate’ in 2019 and was preceded by judgements of ‘Inadequate’ in 2013 and ‘Requires Improvement’ in 2015.

Ofsted’s latest monitoring of Medway’s progress, released today, has found areas of good practice and support for Medway’s care leavers.  Leadership was found to be focused on improvement with the new 16+ service and the care leavers’ hub, together with increased capacity for social workers and Personal Assistants.  Ofsted also make positive comments on support for young parents and for young people in custody.  However, there are still key issues that need urgent improvement, such as continuing inconsistent standards of practice, poor emotional and wellbeing support for our young people and the standards and availability of accommodation for young people leaving care, particularly those with complex needs.  All of these issues are longstanding challenges for Medway’s Conservative administration resulting from failures in recruitment and resourcing as well as national failures of workforce planning, support for mental health services for young people and of ensuring an effective market for accommodation.

Cllr Pat Cooper, Labour and Cooperative Group Member of Medway Council’s Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Corporate Parenting Board Champion for Care Leavers, said, ‘We recognise that council officers, senior managers, social workers, Personal Assistants and other council staff in children’s services are working hard to improve the lives of our young people.   However, Medway’s Conservative administration are still letting too many of our young people down.  They and the Conservative government need urgently to address the issues with accommodation which leaves too many young people in temporary, emergency, unregulated and unregistered accommodation.  They need to resource adequately mental health provision that recognises the emotional and wellbeing challenges facing so many of our young people.  A Labour government would address these national issues.  This report does not have an explicit Ofsted judgement but Medway’s Conservative administration have failed continually over a long period.  Medway Labour will continue to make sure they do right by our young people.’

Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Cooperative Shadow Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said, ‘I have confidence in the leadership of council officers within the service to make progress.  However, Medway’s Conservative administration still have vital challenges to address.  In addition to the work they need to do to support provision of accommodation and mental health, they need to ensure the stability of the workforce.  Too many of the posts supporting improvement are temporary because the funding to support them from Medway’s Conservative administration is temporary.  This cannot be justified and it’s only a short-term fix.  Medway Labour is ambitious for long-term and sustained improvement.  In administration we would work hard to support and develop the workforce to ensure that Medway’s young people, especially the most vulnerable, receive what they deserve – the very best.  We are ambitious for Medway’s Children’s Services to be good or better.  We will not accept second best.’



For further information:      Clive Johnson


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