Council admits unaware of serious safeguarding issues as home to school transport contract collapses

A report to Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet today (15 July 2019) highlights how Labour run Birmingham City Council extended the contract for home to school transport for the city’s disabled children 7 times since 2013 despite the provider failing to meet basic service standards and safeguarding requirements. A lack of monitoring of the  contract meant that significant concerns around safeguarding assurance did not come to light until the company went into Administration and auditors were sent in to evaluate the company.

 

Cllr Alex Yip (Con, Sutton Wylde Green), Shadow Cabinet Member for Children’s Wellbeing said:

 

“This is yet another stark example of Labour’s failure putting both tax payers money and more importantly the safety of vulnerable children at risk because it is unable or unwilling to follow basic processes. Rather than continually allowing the contract to roll over they should have followed a proper competitive process with full due diligence 6 years ago, or on any of the several other occasions they have chosen to extend it since then. They should also have been properly monitoring compliance with the contract during all of those years and if they had done so they would not have been taken by surprise by its collapse and now be facing a dramatic increase in cost with no time to consult with the users of the service. Moreover, they would not have been using a company to transport hundreds of our most vulnerable children every day for all these years without adequate assurances that they would be kept safe.”

 

 

Cllr Debbie Clancy (Con, Longbridge and West Heath), Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group added:

 

“It has taken the collapse of a company’s finances to bring these issues to a head whilst for 6 years the council did not even know there were potential safeguarding risks which would presumably have continued had it not been for the company going into administration. It is simply inexcusable that it should ever have been allowed to reach this point.”

 

The new service is set to start from the beginning of the new school year in September, but with the history of the service being beset with problems, Cllr Yip has raised doubts about the council to deliver this, commenting:

 

“Parental trust in this service is at rock bottom, especially after last year when the council changed routes and withdrew guides with just 3 days’ notice. Given Labour’s history of management, sadly I have little confidence in their ability to manage a smooth transition for the new academic year and have serious concerns about the impact of this on parents who have yet again been excluded from the decisions taken.”