DASS - Key Priorities

You can have a look at the usual depressing blather about “The Vision” for the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) for the next 24 months. HERE

After #DELAYGATE point 6.1 -  Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework is perhaps not the most sensitively worded goal.

Delay and reduce the need for care and support.”

Wirrals Not So Hot Line

Why not publicly an announce setting up a hot line (see HERE)  and then not answer it ?  In most places this would be madness, but in Wirral Council, it’s the norm.

When Is A Social Worker Not A Social Worker?

Below are examples of why Wirral Social Services is one of the worst in the country. Myopic to the point of being unable to see the wood for the trees.

Back in 2010 ASO’s replacing Social Workers was seen very much  as Branch head of Assessment Rick O Brien’s “baby”- So let see what he said in Community Care magazine(below)



 Our 2008 survey found 27% of practitioners expected to see a reduction in the number of social workers in their own teams, 44% expected an increase in staff without a social work qualification, 14% more staff from a health background and 17% no change.

 That survey followed Wirral Council’s decision to cut 29 social work posts and increase the number of non-qualified staff by 26, with social workers focusing on managing complex cases and non-qualified staff taking on the assessment of users with lower-level needs.

 Two years on, the level of change anticipated by the 2008 survey has not taken place. One in eight 2010 respondents has seen a reduction in social workers in their teams while 16% have seen an increase in the number of non-social work qualified staff and 7% an increase in health staff; 53% have seen no change.

 Cartwright says we should have seen more workforce change by now, given that “personalisation was supposed to be a revolution”. Hawkins say the results indicate that councils are avoiding some of the “tough issues” on reconfiguring staff, evidence that personalisation is “starting to stagnate”. He adds: “There should be a different skills mix and fewer social workers.”

 Unsurprisingly, Cartwright disagrees, saying the importance of social workers’ unique skills for delivering personalisation ought to result in more professionals.

 However, Rick O’Brien, head of branch, access and assessment at Wirral Council, says that since its reorganisation the authority now has a “fairly balanced workforce” in terms of the number of social workers and other staff. Social workers, he argues, are better deployed now, managing complex cases and handling safeguarding.

 Despite their reduced numbers, he says personalisation is opening up new opportunities for social workers. For instance, he says care reviews would previously often be carried out by non-social work staff, but because they are now more focused on outcomes, social workers are more involved.



 Now fast forward to 2012. The new head of Social Services Graham Hodkinson, it appears has completely the opposite view..


Graham Hodkinson, director of Adult Services at Wirral Council,  emphasised the importance of social work in the local authority’s future performance.

 Commenting on Mr Hodkinson’s views, set out in a Community Care interview, Ruth Cartwright, BASW England manager, said: “Social work with adults is ill defined and, as such, more at risk. BASW is campaigning to have this work respected and protected.

 “Two years ago, we listened with concern to news from members that social workers had been made redundant from Wirral Council but today we can take heart from the fact that Wirral has realised it needs social workers and that getting rid of them was a false economy – 16 new posts have been created and there will be greater professional support for social workers.



NB. And so Wirral in their infinite wisdom got rid of  29 social workers, and  replaced them with lower paid unqualified ASO’s. Yet The ASO’s have been increasingly given complex work. Word reaches us that ASO’s in at least one team on the Wirral have allegedly put in a claim for a pay increase.

 Apparently they have put  a compelling case to their manager (let’s call him Peter.)  He tried to argue the ASO’s aren’t doing complex work, but the ASO’s pointed out that the only thing Social Workers do that they don’t is adult protection.

Apparently Peter has passed this matter to the Head Of Branch , lets call him Rick.

You couldn’t make it up. And we haven’t.

Wirral Social Services Media Statement.

The new Director Graham Hodkinson’s reaction to the “Smoking Gun” in the illegal 4 Week Delay debacle is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears shouting “lalalalalalala” and then adopting the Klaus Barbie defence " well we don’t do that NOW ."

Or possibly Graham is channeling the spirit of LP Hartley  “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” No old bean, this is Wirral Council, a kind of bizarre public sector version of Royston Vasey and THEY do things very differently here.  Welcome aboard Graham, to a world were the abnormal is normal, where wrong is right and were abuse and bullying appears to be endemic.

with regard to his dismissive media statement he simply reiterates the obvious and says NOTHING because there quite clearly WAS a system in place that delayed care. Nobody has alleged that this is still in place, but questions need to be asked as to why these senior officers thought it ok to do so in the first place….


March 6, 2012


Graham Hodkinson, Wirral’s Director of Adult Social Services, said: ‘I understand that the minutes are a bullet-pointed version of a conversation that took place in 2008 and at the time, would have been supported by other documents when the department was drawing up guidance around care package timescales.

‘We have previously apologised for the unclear guidance that was issued around timescales, which was later clarified and re-issued. I have only been at Wirral a matter of months but am satisfied that our assessment times are now very good, and services are delivered in a timely way reflecting that there is no policy of delay in place.’


Nothing to see here, move along….

And Leader Jeff Green had this to say

Subject: Four week delay response

 Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Jeff Green said:

“This is yet more evidence of a department that was in disarray and a prime example of why we are appointing an ‘independent ombudsman’ to investigate concerns raised around Council practices, particularly in the Department for Adult Social Services.

“As the new Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Social Care and Inclusion, I have asked the new Director to provide me with all of the documents and emails that surround this issue as a matter of urgency. I have also asked for a categorical assurance that there are no dubious or illegal processes in place leading to delays when vulnerable people are seeking care from the Council.”


WBC - Roll Of Shame

Wirral Council does like to control it’s news and add a thick coat of  spin in an attempt to gloss over the cracks ( gaping chasms would be more apt) to it’s unintentionally hilarious press releases.

Alas as the “footballer who cannot be named,” Bryan Griggs discovered you can’t control twitter.   Massive kudos to the journalist who first broke the Martin Morton story, Justin Dunn who has started to name the main players in the Wirral Council debacle. Super injunction anyone ?

Here’s the tweets thus far :  

"Maura Noone and Mike Fowler are the two senior managers to leave #WBC. There. Named. #OutInTheOpen #PleaseRT

They went under ‘compromise agreements’ - pay offs - signed hours before the Klonowski report was made public, albeit redacted

Superiors who knew for years allowed to leave first with handsome cheques.

#Including former chief exec Steve Maddox, ex DASS bosses Kevin Miller and John Webb #WBC #NameAndShame

Serious question mark over knowledge of current chief exec Jim Wilkie, his spin chief Emma Degg, and mayor Moira McLaughlin #WBC

Degg of #WBC infamously briefed Globe that Martin Morton was “a bit mad”.

Degg advised that her “Martin mad” nudge was to protect press from making fools of themselves #WBC

Degg, in charge of supposed impartial #WBC spin, used to be a Labour cllr in Chester”

Another Storm A - Brewing over WBC …

Wirral vs SIL at the Court of Appeal on Jan 25/26.

"When You Walk Through A Storm….. You Get Wet"

  • A Wirral-based organisation called Salisbury Independent Living (SIL) provided accommodation and support for a number of vulnerable adults. 

  • SIL said that they provided ‘exempt accommodation’. The usual housing benefit rent restrictions do not apply to exempt accommodation (for further details of the nature of exempt accommodation see issue 47 of the Journal of Welfare Benefits Law). 

  • Claims for housing benefit were made to Wirral MBC by approximately 70 residents. The council did not make the decisions that SIL had hoped for. Wirral concluded that the accommodation was not exempt accommodation but, even if it was, many of the service charges included within the rent were ineligible for housing benefit. 

  • The dispute has been protracted having lasted for some 8 years. It is also potentially expensive, SIL arguing that some £3 million in housing benefit is owed. 

  • A number of the residents appealed, with SIL’s assistance, against Wirral MBC’s decisions. However about 8 residents had moved away and were not contactable. Another 2 were dead. 

  • The issue was whether SIL had the right to appeal against the decision on these former residents’ claims. The matter came before the Upper Tribunal. 

What did the Upper Tribunal decide? 

  • The Upper Tribunal decided that SIL did have a right of appeal. This meant that it could itself challenge the council’s housing benefit decisions in respect of the dead or missing claimants. The Upper Tribunal reasoned as follows. 

  • Legislation provides that a “person affected” by a housing benefit decision has a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Schedule 7, para. 6(3), Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000). 

  • Regulations set out persons who must be considered, for appeal purposes, to be persons affected by a housing benefit decision (reg. 3(1), Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001). This did not include SIL. 

  • The fact that SIL fell outside the Regulations was not fatal to SIL’s case. This was because the Upper Tribunal held that the Regulations do not contain an exhaustive list of persons affected by a housing benefit decision. 

  • The Upper Tribunal decided that SIL was a “person affected” by the housing benefit decisions for the missing claimants. 

  • However, the benefits authorities have now been granted permission to appeal against the Upper Tribunal’s ruling. The appeal is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal towards the end of this year or at the beginning of 2012. 

Info Here

Wirral Council - Whistleblowing - Louder Than Bombs.

The meltdown continues over at Wirral Council Social Services Department were a  “culture of bullying and intimidation” in the “dysfunctional” social services department seem the norm. As do the allegedly immoral practices that are accepted as ‘the way things are’  - But at least there are some within the organsiation who have had the courage to speak out   “To impose an artificial four-week delay is illegal because the authority is failing in its duty to meet the assessed need. “The likely impact is the individual will suffer for longer than they need to.”

Are these the people we want looking after the most vulnerable in society ?Would this be acceptable if your mother or grandmother’s care was delayed for no other reason, we can see, other than to save money and make senior managers look good ?

Read More http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/09/30/whistleblowers-claim-wirral-council-operated-illegal-delay-on-care-92534-29513038/2/#ixzz1ZSh58637

Wirral Councils lamentable response, full of bluster and breathtaking in it’s self serving arrogance, does not,  it should be noted, include an outright denial that such a blanket policy was in place and quite clearly ignores the fundamental questions. It instead concentrates on transparent and woeful arse covering.

“Dysfunctional” “Toxic” “Corrupt” “Self Serving” ? are comments that have been used to describe this local authority and yet there are still no sackings or resignations ?   It’s a crying shame that it took a report at the cost of £250,000 of tax payers money to get the truth into the public domain.