I welcome the findings of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection report into Children’s Services at SMBC which was published earlier today. The inspection was triggered by the Government and the authorities carried out their inspection in January. The murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in 2020 should never have happened, and the recommendations set out within the report will now give SMBC the opportunity to reflect on what improvements are necessary moving forward. However, it is important to remember that this inspection was not specifically linked to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and a separate investigation is taking place into his death.
The report highlights a number of issues around capacity and staffing, which in turn, means that Children in need of help are waiting too long for their initial need and risk to be assessed. I have received assurances from the Acting Director for Children’s Services at SMBC that staffing levels have risen significantly over recent months. In addition, ahead of the Council’s Budget setting on Thursday, I welcome that the Conservative Group intends to support the Children’s Services Department with additional ongoing funding of £5.8 million in the next financial year, rising to £6.0 million by 2024/25.
As your local Member of Parliament, I will continue to work alongside the Council to ensure the findings and recommendations contained within the JTAI are implemented over the coming weeks and months ahead.