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Audit Commission/Social Services Inspectorate ...
Audit Commission/Social Services Inspectorate

Gloucestershire CC

Gloucestershire CC's social services department is not serving people well and its prospects for improvement are uncertain, according to a joint review by the Audit Commission and Social Services Inspectorate.

Inspectors said while some parts of Gloucestershire's social services were running effectively, there were numerous pockets of weakness hindering the provision of quality services and challenging widespread improvement (LGC, 11 January).

But inspectors concluded the new leadership was 100% committed to delivering a first-class service for local people.

Leader Peter Clarke (Lab) said: 'The review report contains some important messages for the council as a whole. The recommendations will help us shape future priorities and services, in partnership with the community.'


Gloucestershire CC

Gloucestershire CC's education department has serious weaknesses and the council has failed to provide a strategic lead for the service, according to an Ofsted report.

Inspectors said lack of direction has delayed and undermined the development of an inclusive approach to meeting pupils' special educational needs. It has had a serious effect on the development of a comprehensive and coherent strategy for ICT (LGC, 11 January).

The report said support for literacy and numeracy were adequate. Weaknesses included the strategy for special educational needs and the planning of post-16 education.

Chief inspector Mike Tomlinson said: 'While schools are improving, I am concerned that the education department does not appear to have the capacity to improve and deal effectively with the weaknesses identified.'

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council's administration of housing and council tax benefit is poor.

A report by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate said counter fraud activity was also very weak at the time of the inspection.

Inspectors found backlogs of claims and a very poor filing system. There was a significant risk of internal fraud caused by weaknesses in management checking and flawed control of computer access.

But the council has firmly rebutted the findings of the report.

Deputy leader Andy Howell (Lab), cabinet member with responsibility for benefits, said: 'The report is out of date. The team visited Birmingham between June and August in 2000, and have waited 15 months to publish their report. Many of the recommendations in the report have already been addressed.'

Mr Howell said a specialist team to deal with overpayments had already been established. The council has increased its counter fraud investigators from seven to 30.

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