SERIOUS failings are leaving 'too many' children in Bury at risk of harm, a damning inspection report has revealed.

Bury Council's children's services department was found to be inadequate by Ofsted inspectors.

Ofsted reported: "There are serious failures which leave too many children at risk of harm in Bury.

"Children who need help and protection experience drift and delay in having their needs met as a result of frequent changes in social worker, over-optimistic assessments, poor-quality plans, and gaps in supervision and management oversight."

Worryingly, inspectors said that risk to children was not always recognised and children in need of help and protection are not always identified ­— and that some children are at risk of further harm before more "purposeful action is taken to protect them".

When children go missing, the local authority response "is not consistently robust".

Some disabled children have experienced "significant drift and delay" in having their need for help and protection met.

Ofsted further found during the 11 day inspection that the quality of service provided to vulnerable children had deteriorated since the last visit in October 2020.

All but one area of the department was found inadequate.

Other findings included were that children experience multiple changes in social worker, with case loads being too high.

"Although most children are seen regularly, visits often lack purpose and this contributes to a lack of progress in plans," reported Ofsted.

Cllr Tamoor Tariq, deputy leader and cabinet member for children, young people and skills, said: “We are absolutely committed to keeping vulnerable children in Bury safe and we apologise that we have not provided the high-quality services that our children and families rightly expect.

“We accept Ofsted’s findings and recommendations, and we will respond to them positively.

“The council and its partners began work earlier this year to improve our children’s services and we have already taken immediate action to keep children safe.

“We are determined now to make a positive difference quickly while at the same time putting in place the long-term improvements needed.

“I remain completely committed to making sure these improvements happen.”

Geoff Little, Bury Council chief executive and accountable officer of NHS Bury CCG, added: “The service is under new management. Jeanette Richards comes to Bury with an impressive track record of improving children’s services at Blackpool Council and before that Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

“She will lead our improvement in how we protect vulnerable children. There can be no higher priority than keeping children safe. She will also support our social workers - theirs is a tough job and we will support them to reduce their caseloads.

“Linda Clegg, who is an independent expert in children’s services, is chairing our improvement board and she is providing us with challenge and support.

“Our ambition is to achieve a status of ‘good’ or better. We know have a great deal of work to get there. We will provide the support our frontline social workers need as they work together with families, schools, health services, police and the voluntary sector to keep children safe and to support them achieve their potential in life.”

Owen Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Fairfield Hospital in Bury, said: "The safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable children and young people is everybody’s business and we will work closely together with our partners across Bury to respond to any concerns, both now and into the future.”