Decision details

Response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA): Lambeth Council’s Action Plan

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

Recommend to Full Council the approval of the Lambeth IICSA Action Plan, in response to the recommendations in the Inquiry’s Children in Care of Lambeth Council report dated 27 July 2021

Decisions:

The report was introduced by Councillor Claire Holland, Leader of the Council, who highlighted that:

 

  • The Council offered its sincere apologies to the victims n and survivors who were in the former care of Lambeth Council
  • The Redress Scheme had been set up by the Council to provide compensation to victims and survivors
  • It had taken bravery for victims and survivors to come forward in highlighting their experiences and addressing the council’s historic failures
  • The Action Plan addressed each concern raised by IICSA in its investigation report
  • The present Council was different to that of the past, and has been open and transparent in its work surrounding IICSA
  • The whole administration was committed to the Action Plan and delivering it in full.

 

Councillor Holland also highlighted that an addendum had been published setting out the views and recommendations of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee held on 7 December.

 

Cabinet was then addressed by Andrew Travers, Chief Executive, who highlighted that:

 

  • He echoed the Leader’s apologies to all victims and survivors for their experiences, and that they were not believed or listened to in the past
  • The scale of neglect and abuse was shocking
  • The inquiry report included work on providing a safe and caring environment for children in care of the Council
  • Training would be mandated for elected Councillors, as well as checks on recruitment for foster carers and staff
  • The regulatory regime and todays Council were different to that set out in the report
  • The Council would ensure a strong accountability framework and robust procedures for safeguarding children
  • The Action Plan set out work across 8 key areas, and that his responsibility to work with Members, Council staff and the Senior Management Team would ensure that this time would be different
  • As Chief Executive, he would personally Chair the IICSA Board to ensure robust assessment processes, work closely with OFSTED and listen to and act upon the voices of children, both in the care of the Council and generally.

 

Councillor Ed Davie, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People then addressed Cabinet, highlighting that:

 

  • 18 months ago, he gave evidence to IICSA which considered the abuse that took place in Lambeth’s children’s homes from the 1960’s to the early 1990’s
  • In preparation for this, the Cabinet Member read many statements from victims and survivors
  • He had done his best as statutory Lead Member for Children’s Services to brief colleagues so that the support given was safe and helped to achieve the best possible outcome in a way that was absent in the past
  • The Council recognised that further work must be undertaken
  • The IICSA Action Plan was devised after careful consideration of inquiry findings, and was for the whole Council including Members to respond - not just Children’s Services
  • The Council had ensured that children in care were at the heart of decision making, and had listened to the Children in Care Council’s feedback regarding what they would like to keep them safe.

 

Councillor Joshua Lindsey, Chair of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee (CSSSC), thanked the Cabinet for the opportunity to share the views of the CSSSC and echoed sentiments which were expressed by Cabinet and the Chief Executive. It was noted that the IICSA Action Plan had been presented to CSSSC on 07 December 2021. Councillor Lindsey ran through several recommendations that were suggested at CSSSC and although the recommendations were welcomed by Cabinet, he encouraged that these were included and considered or the final version of the action plan.

 

Councillor Scott Ainslie, a Green Group Member, stated that he was searching for evidence of change within the Council as were victims and survivors who were former children under the care of Lambeth as it was highlighted that there had been a case in 2016 in Sheffield, which had uncovered abuse and that Lambeth failed to take the correct action. Councillor Ainslie queried why the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) funding had been withdrawn and why the redress scheme was outside of the Action Plan scope. It was suggested that an addition was made to the Action Plan to address compensation for those who had been excluded from the redress scheme. Councillor Ainslie stated that SOSA was one of the absent consultees in response to the IICSA action plan.  Furthermore, that the Council needed to be transparent and hoped that the recommendation in relation to real time data for Councillors made by CSSC be implemented.

 

The Leader of the Council expressed that the current political leadership at Lambeth were completely open and transparent and refuted claims that similar behaviour still existed. 

 

Naeema Sarkar, Assistant Director of Quality Assurance in Children’s Social Care and Fateha Salim, Assistant Director for Inquiry Legal team responded to questions raised:

 

  • The 2016 Sheffield incident concerned three young people. Strategy meetings were held with the police and action was taken to safeguard the children. However, OFSTED were correct that a formal strategy meeting was not recorded
  • Since then, action has been taken to ensure full compliance with strategy meetings with forms in MOSAIC (the Council’s social care case management system) and Officers were trained on how to complete a strategy meeting record
  • The redress scheme was not considered as part of the Lambeth IICSA Action Plan as the Inquiry excluded this from its terms of reference for the Children in Care of Lambeth investigation strand as it was an ongoing scheme that was being dealt with in the Inquiry’s Accountability and Reparations strand
  • IICSA did note the existence of the Lambeth scheme and that it was criticised by some core participants.  The Inquiry has stated it will revisit redress schemes in its final report due to be published in Summer 2022.

 

Cabinet made the following observations:

 

  • The Action Plan detailed the voices of young people and the part that racism played in the terrible events of the past
  • The Action Plan had been presented to Equalities Impact Assessment Panel which was assured it was thorough and appropriate
  • Records held in archives around democratic processes had helped ensure accountability for the uncovering of neglect and abuse and the Council’s failure to safeguard children
  • Member training had been mandated and incorporated in the supplementary addendum
  • All members of the community had a responsibility to support the welfare of all children in Lambeth, whether they were in care or otherwise.

 

Following consideration, Cabinet resolved to:

 

  1. Accept the recommendations from the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee as set out in the supplementary addendum which also detailed the Council’s responses and resulted in two changes to the Action Plan
  2. Agree that the Lambeth IICSA Action Plan, made in response to the Inquiry’s Children in the Care of Lambeth Council investigation report dated 27 July 2021, be formulated and prepared in the form presented to Cabinet with this report.

 

Report author: Eibhlin McInerney

Publication date: 17/12/2021

Date of decision: 13/12/2021

Decided at meeting: 13/12/2021 - Cabinet

Effective from: 25/12/2021

Accompanying Documents: