An East London council has rated low on overall effectiveness of its children's services in its latest Ofsted report.

Barking and Dagenham’s children’s services were inspected between July 10 and July 21 and found to require improvement in four of five key areas.

These were impact of leaders on social work practice, experiences and progress of children who need help and protection, and experiences and progress of children in care, as well as overall effectiveness.

In the other key area, the experiences and progress of children who leave council’s care, it was marked as good.

Inspectors found that the pressure on management capacity led to a lack of “decisive intervention” for some children who are exposed to “long-term neglect and domestic abuse”.

A report published on September 4 stated that there had been improvements made since the last inspection in 2019. Children’s leaders, it said, understand the service's strengths and weaknesses.

They were found to have “instigated and invested in a number of innovations and taken action to increase social work capacity” and addressed the shortcomings pointed in previous report.

These include responses to episodes of children going missing from care and planning for children placed with their parents under a care order.

The report added: “They (the leaders) have continued to build effective support for children at risk of extra-familial harm and for care leavers.”

However, the inspectors noted that the overall progress “was not consistent” for some children living in the borough.

The major areas where it said the council needed to do more work included the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, experiences and progress of children who need help and protection, and of those in council’s care.

Timeliness of strategy meetings and consistency of response to 16- and 17-year-olds who present as homeless was found lacking. Assessment and decision-making for children experiencing neglect was also highlighted as a weakness in the report.

The report said: “A significant proportion of the council’s budget is allocated to children’s services. This assists in the response to a rapidly increasing child population.

“There has been a tangible commitment from senior council leaders to improve the quality of children’s services with investment to increase social work capacity.”

However, it added that despite this investment, the service’s lean management structure has made it harder “to manage the volume of need and provide essential oversight, direction and supervision required” to ensure kids make progress.

In a press release in response to the report, Barking and Dagenham Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell called for “fairer funding regime”.

He said: “Ofsted’s findings are a huge endorsement of our journey of improving outcomes for children. However, they do not consider our uniquely challenging circumstances, and this is the elephant in the room.”

He claimed that Barking and Deganham is “one of the fastest changing communities” in the country with “the highest number of children under 16 in England and Wales”.

Rising demand, cost of living crisis, the pandemic and higher need were factors he believed have had “a huge impact” on children’s social care services even as their “funding has failed to keep pace”.

The borough, he added, has some of the highest levels of child poverty in the country with 1 in 8 of its families led by a single parent and 12,000 children eligible for free school meals.

However, he claimed, the borough has been able to allocate £1,495 on social care on an average while more affluent London boroughs receive up to £1,000 more.

He said: “We want to do the best for our borough’s children, but we cannot do this with one hand tied behind our back.

"Ofsted’s report is very complimentary about the leadership, staff and partners of our children’s services, but it is silent when it comes to the resources we need. This needs to be addressed by government.”

The council is now said to be working on an action plan to tackle the issues raised in the Ofsted report that can be accessed on this link: