Both political parties represented on Swindon Borough Council have said they will work to support an improvement in the council’s children’s services.

Four years after the council received a ‘Good’ rating, the latest inspection shows children’s services in Swindon to be ‘inadequate’,

A statement from the Labour group, which took political control of the council in May, said: “The Labour group is determined to focus relentlessly on improving the support for young people in the town. Reducing inequality is one of the council's key missions for the town and supporting children and young people sits at the heart of this.

“As a new administration taking control in May, we were dismayed to learn of the full extent of the lack of oversight the previous political leadership had given to the service. The first action taken by Councillor Jim Robbins after his appointment as leader was to contact Ofsted to raise the concerns that we had around the delivery of children's services.

“As the report makes clear the council hasn't been delivering consistently acceptable services for children since 2019 and we are clear that we need to improve.

“We will face this head-on and take all the necessary action we need to in order to improve the service and deliver the best possible outcomes for children and young people in the town.

“We are pleased that the report takes note of the new political leadership in the town as well as the impact that the new corporate director of children’s services has had in identifying the improvements needed.

“The report recognises that more time is needed for the impact of these developments to be realised. We will do all that we can as an administration to support our hard-working staff to ensure that the positive changes do work and that the services improve."

The leader of the Conservative opposition group Councillor Gary Sumner also responded to the report.

He said: “We are deeply saddened to read the Ofsted Report into Children’s Services but fully accept the report.

“I have recently met with the Director of Children's Services and talked through the challenges and acknowledge that policies we put in place such as ‘Pay and Reward’ will certainly help to assist children’s services in both recruitment and foster carers.

“The director began reviewing the service back in January and her appointment is one in which we have confidence. The difficulties faced by the service are starting to be addressed.

“There are huge budget challenges for children’s services and we have never shied away from investing as much resource as we could. As Corporate Parents, all councillors have a responsibility to children in care and we are absolutely committed to improving their experience.

"I was heartened to see the acknowledgement of the work achieved with disabled children and their families.

"The shortage of social workers is a national problem and unfortunately, we are no exception. We recognise that recruitment and retention of good social workers is the basis for improvements in helping the most vulnerable children at their time of greatest need.

“Employing agency social workers cost three times what a permanent social worker would cost and the report says the turnover of social workers has had a critical impact on those to whom we have a duty of care. We are pleased that work has already been undertaken to ‘grow our own’ social workers.

“Work to address the problems had already started before the Ofsted inspection and it will be a couple of years before we see a complete re-design of the service.

“We will support Lisa and her team, alongside the current administration, to do what is needed to get the service back to ‘good’. Ofsted previously highlighted ‘our swift and decisive action to improve services for children and young people in Swindon’ and we will do so again."