Government returns powers to Rotherham Council after sex abuse scandal

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A council has been given back control of its services which were stripped away after a child sexual exploitation scandal.

The government control of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has been in place since February 2015 after damning reports into the way more than 1,400 children were groomed, abused and trafficked in the South Yorkshire town for more than a decade.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said that following “strong progress” by the council he will return control of all services to them on September 24. This includes children’s social care and the withdrawal of the three commissioners who have been working there.

He said: “Vulnerable young people who should have been protected were repeatedly failed by Rotherham Council, which is why the government stepped in to ensure these errors can never occur again.

“I am pleased that strong progress has now been made at the council with the support of the commissioners.

“The return of all powers to Rotherham Council is not a decision that I take lightly, but I am satisfied that the council has learnt the lessons of the past and is now able to provide the services its residents deserve and expect.”

Mr Brokenshire said the changes are “on condition that the council commissions an independent progress review of delivery of services to be completed by February 18 2019, before the directions expire on March 31 2019”.

The action follows the gradual return of selected functions to the council on four separate occasions since the intervention began in February 2015.

Children and Families minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “The handing back of local children’s services to the council marks an important step for this town.

“I am pleased that vulnerable children in Rotherham are now getting the help they need when they need it and I hope to see continuing improvements through the independent review next year.”

The commissioners were appointed following the publication of a report by Dame Louise Casey which found significant failings at the council.

The Casey Report followed the report of Professor Alexis Jay, which shocked the nation when it outlined how hundreds of girls had been exploited by gangs of largely Pakistani heritage men between 1997 and 2013 as police and social workers did little to intervene.

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