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National taskforce to assess social services after Baby P tragedy

PUBLISHED: 16:43 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 07 September 2010

THE chief executive of Camden Council has been chosen to lead a new national taskforce that will review the way social workers are trained and managed. In the wake of the tragic death of Baby P, the Schools Minister Ed Balls has pledged to improve social

THE chief executive of Camden Council has been chosen to lead a new national taskforce that will review the way social workers are trained and managed.

In the wake of the tragic death of Baby P, the Schools Minister Ed Balls has pledged to improve social services across the country.

And he has chosen Moira Gibb, who has been the chief executive of Camden Council for five and half years, to lead the reforms.

In an exclusive interview with the Ham&High, Ms Gibb vowed to carry on in her Camden role but admitted there would be "additional work" when she takes on the voluntary role in January.

She said: "I will be carrying out research into the roles of social workers nationally and looking at what needs to be done to improve the situation."

The work of the taskforce will be to talk to professionals who work in education, health and social services.

They will also be expected to take into account the findings of the forthcoming report into children's services by Lord Laming.

Ms Gibb said: "There has been a lot of criticism of social workers in the past few weeks, and while this may be appropriate, what the Government wants to do is to see how it can improve training and best-leadership practices across the country."

Although she was reluctant to be drawn on the specifics of the Baby P case, she said that the media attention on the role of social workers in the case had taken its toll on the profession.

She said: "I think anyone who was thinking about becoming a social worker will have thought about it again.

"I know that people are feeling very dispirited and let down across the field.

"In order for people to do their best there needs to be high morale within departments."

Ms Gibb, who is married with one son, said that she thought she had been chosen for the position because of her work as chief executive of Camden Council.

Another obvious reason why Ms Gibb may have been chosen for the high-profile role is because of her experience as a teacher and social worker.

She did the former job in the London borough of Newham for two years and Brussels for a year.

Then she completed a two-year degree in social work at Edinburgh University before working as a social worker in Newcastle for five years and then as an inspector of social work at Surrey County Council.

She has also worked as a lecturer of social work at Lancashire University and director of children's services at Kensington and Chelsea.

"A great deal has changed since I was a social worker," Ms Gibb said, "and I will be keen to talk to people who are working in those fields now and listening to what they have to say about it."

The team will be expected to publish a report on their findings in the summer.

Head of children's services in Haringey, Sharon Shoesmith, was sacked without compensation on Tuesday over the Baby P case.

The appointment of Ms Gibb came as Camden Council was criticised for cutting money in its care budget for older people.

Age Concern Camden criticised the council's decision to cut almost £1million from the budget permanently because the authority failed to spend it last year.

The charity said the under-spend had occurred because older people felt "fobbed off" when requesting services, which caused money to be saved. So it argued the cut should not be permanent.


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