WARNINGS of serious problems within the Children's Services department were given to Powys County Council (PCC) well over a year before a damning inspection report was published.

An independent investigation is currently underway looking at the state of the department in the run-up to the report.

In October 2017, the Care and Social Services inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), now known as the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), produced a damning inspection report into PCC Children's Services department, which revealed missed opportunities to safeguard children, poor risk assessment and serious performance issues with front line services.

In January the CIW gave the council a warning letter after a follow up visit to the authority.

Council Leader Cllr Rosemarie Harris has ordered the investigation after councillors on all sides of the chamber had called for a post-mortem of how the service got into such a mess.

An audit report produced by consultants Peopletoo in July 2016 which audited a sample of eight cases has been found as part of the investigation.

They highlighted serious concerns about the management of cases and the care the children and young people were receiving.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat and Green Group, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, said: “We have been assured that the eight children whose cases Peopletoo audited are OK; and that what happened to the report and the actions that followed will now be investigated.

"This is far from adequate.”

Cllr Gibson-Watt added “This July 2016 Peopletoo audit revealed clear, serious and apparently systemic failures in Children’s Services. When all the opposition groups asked for a wide-ranging investigation in to how such serious failings had developed in Children’s Services, following the publication of the CSSIW’s devastating inspection report in October 2017, that request was dismissed as unnecessary.

"How right we were to ask."

Powys County Council's Acting Chief Executive, Mohammed Mehmet, said: “The council has already confirmed that it is holding an independent internal investigation into issues surrounding the report and the extent of action taken at the time.

"It would be inappropriate to speculate on the findings of that investigation before work has been completed.

"Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of children in our care and we are as anxious as anyone to find out exactly what actions were taken and see what lessons can be learnt for the future."

The audit report graded the work on the eight sample cases.

With Grade One for Outstanding and Grade Five - Critical.

Their investigations showed 53 gradings. 43.4 per cent were Grade Three - requires improvement. 51 per cent were Grade Four - inadequate.

Recommended courses of action were suggested and in two cases Peopletoo highlighted their concerns with an area manager.

The audit also found that the case notes were of "poor quality"and they found lack of management supervision with the cases.

The report goes on to say that the children's views and feelings were not evident in assessments.

In its conclusions Peopletoo said: "It is evident that the management oversight is inadequate with those cases audited.

"It is noted that a lack of management oversight is directly linked with drift and diminishing of quality in practice which ultimately leads to poor outcomes for children."

Peopletoo gave 22 themed recommendations and within those a further 55 points for improvement.

The council said that the investigation will be finished by the end of September.