Council leaders heaped praised on retiring children’s services chief Sue Imbriano this morning, despite Ofsted last month identifying huge failings in the department she ran for eight years.
Leader of the council Martin Tett and cabinet member Peter Hardy praised the hard work of Mrs Imbriano, who leaves at the end of this week, in discussion about how the beleaguered department is going to improve.
Mr Hardy wished her luck and thanked Mrs Imbriano, who was paid a salary of £143,000, for all her work.
Mr Tett said that he had known her for years and there was ‘no truer or more loyal worker at this council’.
Mrs Imbriano was answering questions from the cabinet, together with children’s services portfolio holder Angela Macpherson.
The pair asked the cabinet to consider taking £1million from council reserves, to plug a gap needed to fund more staff.
A 70% increase in referrals from agencies including the police and health providers is said to be the reason that the department is under so much pressure, with social worker taking on even greater ‘unmanageable’ work loads.
Mrs Imbriano said that she had been working with frontline staff over the last couple of weeks, and was confident that the department was doing everything it could to improve on Ofsted’s bottom rating of inadequate.
It was also heard that children’s services improvements have not yet been costed, and the £1million would go towards shorter term improvements, while the council responds to the Ofsted report.
Mrs Macpherson said: “We have looked in depth at staffing levels which is a particular area of concern. Ofsted arrived while we were in the middle of delivering these changes.”
She added: “Championing the most vulnerable in society is my task going forward.”
As part of the meeting Mrs Macpherson also unveiled MASH, a multi agency task force which aims to ensure that vulnerable children and adults receive the help they need from the right agencies more quickly.