Birmingham's inadequate children's services department is now 'more likely' to put years of persistent failure behind it following the intervention of a government commissioner, it has been claimed.

The council's Labour leader Sir Albert Bore said the appointment of children's commissioner Lord Warner two months ago had invigorated the department and brought a fresh focus on improvement.

Lord Warner, a former Labour health minister, was selected by Conservative education secretary Michael Gove to oversee the improvement plans put in place following a string of damning inspection reports.

Speaking as Birmingham's cabinet approved a three-year children's social services improvement plan, Coun Bore said he was pleased to have Lord Warner's input.

"He has brought a focus to these matters which has not been there before. I am not saying we will have solved everything at the end of the three years but it is more likely to happen with the current plan than has been the case in the recent past," he said.

Birmingham children's services has been rated as 'inadequate' since 2009 and has regularly hit the headlines for failures which could have prevented the tragic deaths of children like Khyra Ishaq and Keanau Williams - both killed at the hands of abusive parents.

Despite several changes in both political leaders and strategic directors over that time, the deparment has stubbornly failed to improve - with problems over morale, staff and workloads and concerns Birmingham is too big an authority to be effective.

Key elements of the improvement plan include recruiting and retaining good staff, improving times for assessment of children at risk and effective and stable leadership.

It also talks of devolving both the management structure and some services to local areas by October.

Cabinet member for children's services Coun Brigid Jones said plans were already afoot to let either the 10 individual districts or groups of districts to commission their own early years intervention services.

She said: "Birmingham is such a diverse city, we are looking at the commissioning of early help services at a district level if possible."

Opposition Tory and Lib Dem councillors gave their backing to the improvement plan and urged that there continued to be strong monitoring of progress.

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