DESPITE millions of pounds being pumped into the social services department, it’s performance is still being described as “under par”.

At Powys County Council’s (PCC) full council meeting, director of social services, Alison Bulman gave her annual report to councillors.

Ms Bulman said: “Both Adult and Child Services are on a journey of improvement, indeed they are on a journey to excellence.”

“Over the last year we have been making important progress on this journey while we recognise there is much to do.

“We now have a stable leadership team in place and would now expect the pace of improvements to increase rapidly over the next six to 12 months.”

Ms Bulman added that in October 2018, Children’s Services had received a full inspection from the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).

She said that this report highlighted that the department “still had much to do” but also recognised “significant improvements in some key areas.”

Ms Bulman added: “Adult Services has had a number of monitoring visits from the CIW and against some excellent work has been identified but we need to make sure that this is consistent across the service.”

Liberal Democrat and Green group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt (Glasbury), said: “The report outlines there has been a mass of activity in and around the children looked after framework.

“Lots of meetings lots of partnerships developed. It seems a re-energised process, but performance remains stubbornly under par.

“I accept that this is a long journey, there’s no question about that, the director hopes that performance improves in the next six to 12 months, but is that realistic?”

Ms Bulman replied: “There’s green shoots that things are improving for people.

“The term “below par” doesn’t sit with me, certainly our targets are aspirational and we are committed to delivering. We actually compare very well with other local authorities where we are able to get that information.”

Ms Bulman added that Children’s Services were also “making real progress” on reducing their reliance on agency staff” and recruiting permanent staff.

Children’s Service has also just finished a restructure which Ms Bulman believes makes the department “future fit.”

Cllr Gwilym Williams (Conservative – Disserth and Trecoed) is the chairman of the Health and Care scrutiny committee said that he looked forward to working with director and portfolio holder scrutinising the service.

“Good luck with what you’re doing and let’s get this sorted,” said Cllr Williams.

In October 2017, 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 2018  the CIW gave the council a warning letter after a follow up visit to the authority.

Following the report in 2018, £6 million was pumped into the department to turn things around

Another £6 million has been added to that.

In May 2018, a new Director of Social Services Ali Bulman was appointed and October 2018, a new Head of Children’s Services, Jan Coles was appointed.