Herefordshire Council has confirmed the publication of the Children’s Commissioner’s report and the subsequent Ministerial decision on Herefordshire Children's Services.

The report identifies various issues, such as poor practice, staff turnover, high numbers of agency staff, and inconsistent leadership, which have had a negative impact on the children and families in the area. The Council has taken some steps to address these issues, but there is a need for a more rigorous and systematic approach to improve children's services at a faster pace.

While retaining the operational control of Herefordshire Council, the report recommends strengthening the leadership of children's services to show evidence of progress in key areas within the next three to six months. The Commissioner will oversee the securing of short-term external support and explore options for a long-term partnership with a good or outstanding local authority to deliver sustained improvement.

The report also discusses the direction given by the Secretary of State for Education to Herefordshire Council, following inadequate performance by the council of its children's social care functions, as assessed by Ofsted and the Commissioner for Children's Services in Herefordshire. The Secretary of State has appointed a Children's Services Commissioner and an Improvement Adviser to oversee improvements in the council's delivery of children's social care.

Herefordshire Council fully accepts the Minister’s decision and apologises for the failures highlighted in the report, which they say they are committed to addressing. The Council has a detailed three-year improvement plan in place, significant additional investment, a strengthened leadership team, a targeted recruitment and retention campaign, and the structure for an independent commission to give families a voice and help move forward from the mistakes of the past.

The Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, has expressed her support for the Council's commitment to improving children's services and working with partners to meet the targets set out in the report. Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, has welcomed the opportunity to work with the Commissioner, partner authorities, other agencies, and families to bring an end to the failings that have affected the children's service for far too long.