MPs say more help is needed to attract good social workers to Norfolk

Dave Hill of Essex County Council who has been brought in as a commissioner for Norfolk children's s

Dave Hill of Essex County Council who has been brought in as a commissioner for Norfolk children's services - Credit: Archant

Norfolk needs more help to attract top quality social workers and must put in a strong bid for a slice of a new £100m fund, MPs from the county have said.

In a joint press release, eight of the nine Norfolk MPs - the seven Conservatives and Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb - said they would fix up a meeting to push for help from education secretary Nicky Morgan.

It comes after they met Dave Hill - the commissioner drafted in to recommend improvements at Norfolk County Council's children's Services, and director of children's services Michael Rosen this week.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, who chaired the meetings, also told children's services bosses they should make good use of data to drive performance, ensure a comprehensive ethos throughout their organisation for children in care and ensure that every opportunity is identified for early intervention so that fewer children were into care, or were identified for safeguarding.

Following the meeting Ms Smith said: 'Norfolk's most vulnerable children need this improvement, because they have been let down for too long. As constituency MPs we want to support children's services to do better, and to make Norfolk known for being the best. I will be pressing for holistic improvements across the department, and in particular for intervention as early and smartly as possible where it's needed so that Norfolk children can be helped not to go into care. It's also crucial that we keep up the focus on education and employment for young people too, and I want to see a coherent leadership commitment to the young people of Norfolk.'

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Mr Freeman said: 'In the same way that Norfolk needs to be much more ambitious in recruiting and retaining great teachers, we need to be more ambitious about recruiting and retaining great social workers. I'm delighted that the Government has announced a £100 million fund for social work recruitment and along with other Norfolk MPs, I will be contacting the Secretary of State to put in a strong bid for Norfolk.'

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss MP said: 'It is vital that our most vulnerable children get all the support they need. I will work with my fellow MPs to ensure Norfolk gets it fair share of the Frontline programme so we can attract more social workers to the county. We are seeking a meeting with Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary on this. I will also be pressing for better support for children with SEN; they need school places that can help them thrive.'

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Labour MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis said it was 'completely disingenuous' to talk about a £100m boost.

'Hardly any of it will find its way to Norfolk and what does is a drop in the ocean in comparison with the £300m annual cuts the county has had to make since 2010.

'And as for the recommendation that the county discovers 'early intervention' - they've been focused on that since Labour won in 2013. The real problem is the cuts which have resulted in the end of county organised youth work and massively reduced funding for organisations that work with our at risk young people.'

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