Manchester City Council

In the Balance

Early start today as lots to read before my first meeting which isn't until 9am. The pile includes the government's proposed new Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity. It's not a particularly draconian document and readers can sleep soundly knowing this blog is safe from the hand of government censorship, but I'm not sure quite how it fits with the notion of localism.

This morning is spent in Executive Members Group with three agenda items, The State of the City report, Health reform and integrated commissioning, and inevitably the Comprehensive Spending Review and how it impacts on our business planning. Yesterday was a little more varied. The British Council of Shopping Centres are having their annual conference and exhibition in the city and in the morning I spoke at a session on how we can finance regeneration activity in the current economic climate. The answer by the way is with difficulty, but there are still avenues open as I talked about last time. I went straight from there to a round table organised by Management Today on the theme of Globalisation. The other people present were predominantly from the private sector and the emphasis was on the economic impacts of globalisation with my contribution being around the impact on the city and the role the city has to play.

However, by far the most interesting part of the day came later when, along with Sheila Newman our Executive Member for Children's Services, I visited our childrens social services office in Moss Side. We only tend to hear about social workers when something goes wrong which is a very unfair reflection of the difficult and important work they do. In the last couple of years we've increased the number of social work posts in the city dealing with children and families. Currently all the posts are filled but our staff still carry large and often difficult case loads. The Moss Side office has four teams of seven staff each ( manager, senior practioner, and five social workers ) and although this is at the extreme end, one team alone, when it was their turn to be the duty team got forty six new referrals in just one week . I was struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff, and also by the way they set out to work with other agencies, especially schools and health, to make sure that our most vulnerable children get the best deal possible. Inevitably things will go wrong from time-to-time. We need to be honest about that, investigate thoroughly and learn from our mistakes. We are very quick to condemn when tragic mistakes are made, but don't spend enough time acknowledging and appreciating that 99.9% of the time our staff are getting it right.

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There are 3 responses to “In the Balance”

  1. Jim Mogg Says:

    In reference to the 99.9% of time that staff get it right - I can't comment on whether that stat is accurate, however I would say the reason why there is an outcry when it does go wrong is down to the often tragic effects of mistakes. LA's don't often shroud themselves with glory (not Mcr) by making comments in haste without thinking of the shock experienced by the general public - I'm thinking here of the Baby P case of course.

    In all though you should celebrate people doing their jobs well in difficult circumstances.

  2. franky Says:

    Your are dead right the press crucify social workers for human mistakes, of course the press never make human mistakes, like lying!

  3. Ian Says:

    Strange that bankers can bring the country within total meltdown and still get their large bonus's and keep their jobs yet the overworked and underpaid social workers can get kicked about in the press.

    Just think if you did'nt have them were would we be.

    A big thank you to them all in Manchester for the great job you do. I for one thank you.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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