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Torbay's poverty 'must be tackled'

Torbay Council's HQ, the Town Hall in Torquay

There's calls for more to be done to tackle poverty across Torbay, following two 'inadequate' children's service Ofsted inspections.

The service is currently overseen by Plymouth City Council and is expected to overspend by more than £4 million by the end of the financial year. 

A monitoring visit in early January found ongoing problems.

The Mayor of Torbay has exclusively told The Breeze that tonight he'll look to give more money to the children's services department  - with a focus on retaining social workers and improving foster care support.

 The leader of the Lib Dems on Torbay Council Steve Darling said: "We usually put a number of objections forward at budget time but we felt the crucial  issue for the local authority is to tackle the continuing challenges that Torbay faces in children's services.  

"We have the second highest number of children taken into care in the UK, here in Torbay.  

"The council needs to turn the tide on poverty in the bay by improving this service and ensuring that, whatever activity Torbay is undertaking, it considers how it could be reducing poverty."

The proposer of the motion, Torquay Lib Dem councillor Nick Pentney, added: "Foster carers are the backbone of the service and we need to ensure that more of our children in care are supported by Torbay foster carers.  

"We can do this by adequately supporting them every hour of every week..  

"We also need to ensure that that there is a clear retention and recruitment strategy for social workers.   

"By getting this budget properly managed Torbay can help those most in need in our community and stop the need for financial freezes to the whole Council budget resulting in Torbay becoming even more tired and neglected."

Ofsted's latest report into Torbay's children's services warned: "Senior leaders have failed to address the significant concerns identified during the re-inspection of Torbay children’s services in June 2018. 

"Capacity issues and safeguarding and family support service are considerable, with too few social workers to carry out the work needed. 

"This results in delays in seeing children and an inability to undertake good-quality assessments, make effective plans and take necessary and timely action. Inspectors and senior leaders remain concerned that risks to children are not being managed consistently. 

"An improvement plan, developed with partner agencies and agreed by the improvement board, is being implemented. 

"This is focused on the widespread and serious issues identified by previous inspections. 

"However, the plan overly concentrates on process and compliance. 

"It is not based on a systematic evaluation of the current service weaknesses, or on a full understanding of the present experiences of children."

Click play to hear Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver speaking to reporter Andrew Kay

Click play to hear councillor Steve Darling speaking to reporter Andrew Kay

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