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Commissioner sent into county over children's social care decline

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Hampshire CC’s chief executive John Coughlan has been appointed children’s commissioner at West Sussex CC after Ofsted found “widespread and serious weaknesses” in its children’s social care services.

An inspection report published last month said services had “seriously declined” since Ofsted gave the council a ‘requires improvement” rating in 2016, with most social work practice found to be weak and “risks to children seldom recognised”.

Under a government direction issued on Tuesday on behalf of education secretary Damian Hinds, West Sussex has been told to comply with Mr Coughlan’s instructions in relation to improving services.

Mr Coughlan will also assess the council’s capacity to improve “within a reasonable timeframe” and whether long-term improvement can be sustained if West Sussex retains operational control children’s social care services.

He will report to the education secretary on whether the council should retain control of children’s social care services by 30 September.

A West Sussex spokesperson said: “We welcome the Department for Education’s confirmed appointment of a commissioner to oversee our response to Ofsted’s recommendations, and work with us as we finalise and then deliver our Children First Improvement Plan.

”Making the necessary improvements to raise and sustain the standard of our children’s services is the council’s top priority.”

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