Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

New body to 'review' social work

Childrens secretary Ed Balls
Ed Balls says everything must be done to protect standards

The leadership, supervision and training that social workers receive are to be reviewed in the wake of the Baby P case, ministers are to announce.

A task force will be given the job of scrutinising every aspect of the profession and identifying steps needed to improve standards in the service.

Children's secretary Ed Balls has said it is vital those entrusted with child safety undertake their jobs properly.

Haringey Council was sharply criticised for its actions in the Baby P case.

Senior council members resigned and the director of children's services was sacked after stinging criticism of Haringey's failings in the run-up to the death of 17-month old Baby P.

The boy, who was on the council's "at-risk" register, died in 2007 with major injuries, including a broken back.

Mr Balls and Health Secretary Alan Johnson have outlined details of a task force, to be chaired by chief executive of Camden Council Moira Gibb, to look at the day-to-day responsibilities of social workers.

Among the issues it will look at are how social workers prioritise their time, how they are supervised and what changes are needed to ensure appropriate numbers of front-line staff and support are provided for vulnerable children.

Mr Balls has acknowledged the review will be "controversial" but has said it is necessary to ensure standards are maintained across England and improved where needed.

The Conservatives said cultural attitudes within the profession that affected decision making must be looked at as much as structures.

The Lib Dems said ministers must not "stigmatise" social workers or they risked making the profession seem "unattractive".

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