Birmingham City Council’s troubled children’s services are to be handed over to an independent ‘voluntary’ trust in preparation for Chanel 4’s Dispatches episode which secretly investigated the department. Birmingham’s children’s services department has been in special measures for eight years following a string of high profile failures resulting in the deaths of vulnerable children.
It is clear from the constantly vitriolic comments by OFSTED chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, such as saying that Birminghm was ‘the worst place in the developed world for children to grow up in’, that for a long time the government have been preparing to use the serious problems facing the department as an excuse for privatisation. At this stage it is unclear whether the council will retain control over its children’s services.
A local journalist has revealed there has been pressure off Cameron himself for this course of action to be taken, yet, unbelievably the Labour council leader, John Clancy, will claim that this is the council’s idea! It is hard to find a better example of the degeneration of Labour by taking the credit as it falsely mimics Tory privatisation.
Birmingham has one of the highest rates of child deprivation in the country while the city’s budget has been cut by £450M since 2010, resulting in many frontline services being cut to the bone and others disappearing altogether. While at the same time the countries wealthiest top 1% has seen their money triple.
These cuts are directly linked to the considerable number of challenging child protection cases. Poverty, under-funding and a Labour council who reuses to stand up to the Tories are the root causes of this problem, and profit seeking private trusts will not be prepared to invest the vast sums of money necessary to turn this situation around. The Labour council has failed the city by carrying out the Tories dirty work while being completely aware of the devastating effect it would have on the people who live within Birmingham.
The deaths of these children are on the hands of both the Central Government and the Local Authority yet they will not be held accountable for it. They will find frontline workers, staff who have been overworked and undervalued, to become the scapegoats and take the hit.
Birmingham Socialist Party stands with the Children’s Service’s social workers and demands no more cuts in order to ensure the safety of the children and the wellbeing of the staff. While extra funding is vital the real solution lies in abolishing poverty which would allow human relationships to be constructed on a far healthier basis.