Doncaster council’s ‘turnaround’ praised

Doncaster Council Civic Office
Doncaster Council Civic Office
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A new report into failings at Doncaster Council that led to it being stripped of its children’s services says the Government should learn from the local authority’s ‘turnaround.’

Following findings from the Audit Commission in 2010 which said Doncaster Council had a ‘legacy of failure,’ the Government deemed it necessary to appoint commissioners and for its children’s services department to be looked after by an independent body in the form of the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.

The Government’s commissioners were withdrawn in 2014, a year earlier than planned, following ‘improvements’ being made.

And now, research from the Institute for Government says the Government should learn lessons from the way in which the council responded to its failures and was subsequently able to ‘turn around’ the running of its services.

Speaking to a national newspaper, report author Oliver Ilott said: “In Doncaster, the turnaround was based in part on reconnecting the council with neighbouring authorities.

“Doncaster avoided the risk of pursuing an unsustainable recovery based on temporary appointments or relying on external support.”

He added: “The commissioners were clear that ownership should remain with the council. The test for ending the intervention was not whether services had returned to a good standard, but whether commissioners were confident that the council could reach that point without further external support. Failure is not going to go away, but at least we can minimise its impact if the Government is prepared to learn lessons from the past. There is plenty of scope for improvement.”

Jo Miller, Doncaster Council’s chief executive, said: “We feature as a positive case study on how to turn things around through determination and a lot of hard work. Doncaster’s journey and story is being told and shared and if others learn from us that can only be a good thing.”