A COUNCIL has been rated among the best in the country for the services it provides for children in the borough.

A team of eight Ofsted inspectors spent four weeks carrying out a rigorous inspection under the government’s new single inspection framework of children’s services provided by Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Oftsed has praised the council for its ‘early help and well co-ordinated support’ but said it needs to improve the ‘quality’ of some of the services it provides.

The judgement of the inspectors, published yesterday, puts the council in the top third of local authorities nationally and is one of only six out of 23 in the North West to have this rating.

Despite its high rating, the report states that there are significant capacity issues in children services the council provides because of reductions in the council’s budget and substantial increases in the demand for children’s services.

According to the report, the council have prioritised improving outcomes for children and safeguarding vulnerable people but this has meant delays in the support given to some children who are seen to be less at risk.

Across the service, most assessments of children’s needs are timely, but the quality is seen as variable because they are not always updated they sometimes do not inform key decision -making, according to the report.

Cllr Maureen Bateson, the executive member for children’s services, said: “The judgement really is something special given the unprecedented cuts to the council’s budget and the increasing demand for our support.

“More than anything I’m glad that children who most need our help and protection, feel positive about being looked after by the council.

“We listen to their views and the inspectors saw that this led to good decisions.”

Linda Clegg, director of children’s services, said “It’s important that we take pride in this report.

“The inspectors were clear that we have done amazingly well to keep standards high. The quality means we are making a real difference to the lives of children, young people and families.

“We welcome the feedback and recommendations made which will be included in our ongoing improvement plans.”

Council leader, Cllr Mohammed Khan said: “I would like to thank the staff for their continuing efforts as they keep on top of the growing demand and work with increasingly complex cases.

“We will continue to call on Government for fair funding for these vital services.”