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SCRUTINEER-AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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

Warrington BC

Warrington BC's social services department manages a comparatively low budget efficiently, according to inspectors.

Headway is being made in protecting and promoting the independence of vulnerable people, according to the joint Social Services Inspectorate/Audit Commission review.

The review team said councillors should look closely at their financial strategy to ensure good quality service provision continues and the future needs of all local people are met.

It recommended improved consultation, evaluation of support available to families and child protection teams and 'targeted activity' on recruitment and retention problems.

Director of social services David Whitehead said the report showed how effectively money was used by the department.

'On the evidence of the joint review, we can guarantee that any extra cash will be used to excellent effect to provide support to the most vulnerable people,' he said.

Social Services Inspectorate

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC's residential care service has received the top rating in a report from the Social Services Inspectorate, which is moving over to a best value-style star rating system next year.

Inspectors praised Hammersmith & Fulham's internal best value review of residential homes for older people, which was carried out in late 1998 and early 1999.

The review decided to close many of the council's old people's homes and enhance care provision and nursing to allow elderly people to stay at home for longer.

Inspectors said there had been 'marked improvements in both staffing and standards of care in the remaining homes'.

Hammersmith & Fulham developed a range of services with the health authority and was praised for its efforts at joint working.

The inspectorate said of the council's£20m strategy for older people: 'It seeks to develop a wider range of services than existed, that all work together to meet local needs.'

Benefits Fraud Inspectorate

Highland Council

Highland Council's revenue and benefits service is prompt, but there are weaknesses in tackling fraud, said a Benefits Fraud Inspectorate report.

The council has an effective strategy encouraging residents to take-up benefit and providing advice to claimants.

But the report found the council had not 'achieved the same level of effectiveness

in safeguarding benefits against error and fraud'.

The inspectorate found the council lacked a formal anti-fraud policy and carried out prosecutions in an unplanned way.

A council spokeswoman said: 'Many of those aspects of the service which have been criticised have already received careful attention by officers of the council.'

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