Lambeth set to make £153k Children’s Services appointment – without advertising or interviewing for the role

Lambeth Council is set to appoint a Strategic Director of Children’s Services – without advertising or interviewing for the position.

Annie Hudson, the current Interim Strategic Director, has been put forward for the £153,000 role. A contract for 18 months is being considered.

Hudson is a former Chief Executive of the College of Social Work. She was drafted in by Lambeth in May 2015 following an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted inspection.’ Three years earlier and the service was rated as ‘outstanding.’

Cllr Jane Edbrooke, the Cabinet Member for Children, has been asked to agree the appointment.

The document [pdf] states:

“The post will be remunerated at the same rate as the other Strategic Directors (£153k) with an additional payment of £9,000 per year in lieu of relocation costs and recognising the unique circumstances of this appointment.”

The report argues that advertising the position will lead to further expense:

“Moving to an external recruitment process is costly and would not reflect the Council’s ambition to provide a consistent and stable approach to improvements of Children Services.”

The Council needs to demonstrate to Ofsted that it is making an attempt to turn around the service. There was a danger last year that Children’s Services could be taken out of control of the Council. This threat now appears to have subsided.

The original Ofsted inspection was particularly damning in terms of management changes, citing a lack of continuity. Poor communication with users of the service and management oversight are also mentioned.

The inspection included services for children in need of help and protection; children looked after and care leavers as well as Lambeth’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

OFSTED made 22 recommendations relating to the service. The inspectors found inconsistencies in social care practice and the organisation’s approach to collecting and using performance data. It also found serious failings relating to leadership and management.