COUNCILLORS are concerned they might not be able to hold the new company running children’s services to account – six months before it is due to launch.

The county councillors in charge of scrutinising children’s social care in Worcestershire have said they have “huge concerns” around future scrutiny of the company and are still in the dark over whether they will be able to properly hold the new company or its board to account.

Councillor Fran Oborski, who chairs the county council’s children and families overview and scrutiny panel, has repeatedly called for its role in scrutinising Worcestershire Children First to be properly affirmed.

She said: “We need to have confidence that when the company goes live in October that the abilities of this council to hold this company to account properly through the scrutiny process are written and established.

“We don’t want to find out six or nine months down the line that there has been some sort of hiccup of whatever nature and we can’t actually challenge it, call it in or do anything about it.”

At a recent meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s overview and scrutiny performance board, Cllr Oborski said she had been in contact with some of the leaders of councils which have set up similar companies to run children’s services and found that while services have improved, budgets have also risen significantly.

She said: “Our concern, of course, is that you set up the company, and we keep being told that the council stays in charge of the budget, but if a company is set up, the targets are set and 18 months down the line they come back to us and say we can’t meet those targets unless you give us a massive budget increase. What can the council do about it?

“We don’t want this ‘they will just report to you twice a year on their performance’, we want to be able to actually scrutinise the effects of the company, its outcomes and its performance.”

Cllr Liz Eyre, as vice chairman of the scrutiny board, said she would be writing to the county council’s chief executive asking for confirmation that the scrutiny board’s role of properly holding children’s services to account would continue when Worcestershire Children First was up and running.