AN audit of Bradford Council found “significant weakness” in Governance relating to the authority’s failing Children’s Services.

Every year, an external auditor is appointed to carry out a full review of the Council, including spending and leadership.

Carried out by Mazars, the audit for the year ending March 2021 has recently been published, and is yet another document that highlights the failings of Children’s Services in the district.

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However, the Council says the report overall is a “positive one” in relation to most of the Council’s operations “with the exception” of its Children’s Services failings.

Bradford’s Children’s Services were judged inadequate by Ofsted in 2018, and since then inspectors have criticised the pace of improvement.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the service would be removed from Council control – instead run by an arm’s length trust. This was due to the Council’s apparent inability to improve the service without external support.

The audit covers a period before this announcement, but says it found “risks of significant weaknesses in the governance of Children’s Services.

It says: “Ofsted’s concerns around the Council’s progress in addressing the identified weaknesses in children’s services represent a significant weakness in arrangements in relation to Governance and how the Council implements or achieves progress on recommendations raised as a result of previous recommendations from Ofsted.

“Despite implementing actions in response to the 2018 Ofsted report and subsequent Monitoring Letters, it is clear that to-date, the Council has not yet fully addressed all identified weaknesses.”

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In other areas the Audit gives the Council a clean bill of health.

It doesn’t identify any areas of concern relating to financial sustainability, saying: “The Council has a good track record of delivering its budget.

“Based on our work, there is evidence of effective financial management arrangements despite the continued financial pressures.”

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In response to the audit Chris Chapman, Director of Finance, said: “It is a positive report.

“The auditors have provided full assurance to our accounts, our value for money and our internal control processes with the exception of the challenges facing our children’s services which are well documented.

“Children’s Social Care budgets are a national concern amongst finance directors. Over eight in 10 councils have been forced to overspend their budgets for children’s services, according to figures released last year by the Local Government Association. Despite that challenging context we are determined to drive up standards and use our money effectively, which is recognised within the report.”