It is entirely predictable, yet entertainingly pointless, that the recent appointment of the new Director of Children’s Services (DCS) in Rotherham has come under criticism for the role’s pay packet.
There is no harder job in local government. Councillors don’t like to spend money on children’s services because they’re not vote winners compared to bin collections, yet if something goes wrong, the DCS is in the firing line… from all sides. The budget challenge facing children’s services (in Rotherham and nationally) is unsustainable; demand is going up, yet budgets are being squeezed. And the scale of the challenge in Rotherham is acute (for obvious reasons) – and the media criticism that draws unfavourable comparisons based on the population size of the neighbouring authority is fatuous in the extreme.
Furthermore, in Rotherham the new DCS faces a number of difficult challenges. First, to sustain the changes introduced by Ian Thomas (@Ian_C_Thomas) and his team at a time when the budget challenge to 2020 is significant. Second, to manage both the large population of looked after children and reduce demand coming into the system. Third, to integrate children’s services with the wider range of local authority and health services in the Borough.
So, it’s a difficult job in challenging times, in a place where children are at the heart of the Borough’s vision over the next five years. If that doesn’t warrant a good pay packet, I don’t know what does.