In my Written Statement of 21 July 2014, Official Report, Column 100WS, I informed the House that that I intended to bring the statutory corporate governance intervention in Doncaster Metropolitan borough council to an early close, once the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust was fully up and running.
The Doncaster Children’s Services Trust has now had responsibility for children’s social care services in the area since 30 September. I am therefore today revoking the intervention directions made under the Local Government Act 1999 to end the statutory corporate governance intervention in Doncaster.
I put the Doncaster corporate governance intervention in place in 2010 following an independent inspection report which raised serious concerns about the governance and performance of the council. I asked a team of 3 commissioners to oversee the council’s governance. In June of this year, a Local Government Association Peer Challenge found that the council’s performance had materially improved, both politically and managerially, and that the council was no longer an outlier in terms of the performance expected of a local authority, except with regard to children’s services which have now been transferred to the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.
This shows that such a targeted approach to intervention can turn around a dysfunctional mayoral administration.
On 10 September following serious concerns raised about child sexual exploitation in the neighbouring borough of Rotherham, I announced (Official Report, Column 37WS), that I was appointing Louise Casey to undertake a statutory best value inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan borough council, and to report to me on whether she considered, as result of undertaking the inspection or otherwise, there are any further matters which might appropriately be drawn to the attention of authorities and other local service providers generally to assist them to improve the delivery of their services, particularly those relating to children and young people.
The government considers that it is of the utmost importance that councils everywhere vigorously and effectively undertake their responsibilities for safeguarding children and young people. In the light of Louise Casey’s reports, we will take all actions necessary in relation to Rotherham or councils more generally, and my decision today is of course without prejudice to that.