Two London boroughs have announced a plan to share their children’s services.
Kingston-upon-Thames RBC and Richmond LBC will set up a jointly-owned local authority company, to be led by Richmond’s director of children’s services, Nick Whitfield.
Although full details of the company’s role have not yet emerged, a statement from Kingston-upon-Thames RBC said the move would create an “integrated children’s service”.
The decision to share services follows a highly critical Ofsted report about Kingston earlier this year, which described its safeguarding services as “inadequate”.
Mr Whitfield has been interim director of children’s services at Kingston since July, following the resignation of its former director Duncan Clark in the wake of Ofsted’s criticism.
At that time, Kingston leader Derek Osbourne (Lib Dem) said he was surprised by the rating because the authority’s services had previously received strong ratings, but that he welcomed Ofsted’s “tough scrutiny”.
Richmond’s safeguarding services were rated as “good” in its most recent Ofsted report, published in May.
The plan to share services will be discussed by councillors at both authorities during December. The arrangement is expected to be in place by 1 April.
A statement from Kingston-upon-Thames RBC said the plans presented “opportunities for financial savings initially as the two departmental management teams are merged”.
In a statement Lord True (Con), leader of Richmond LBC, said the move would “not only result in savings, but also ensure that we maximise the effectiveness of our resources, with an increased customer focus and ability to provide more seamless services across two borough boundaries”.