HELP is not being "provided consistently" to improve conditions for children living in Southend homes where there is neglect or domestic violence, a watchdog has found. 

An Ofsted inspection into the Southend Council’s children services took place in May. 

In a report published last week, inspectors said the council had made "significant improvements" but work was still needed. 

It stated: “The director of children’s services is engaging with independent improvement partners, who assist in providing robust external scrutiny.

“Most children are seen regularly at a frequency proportionate to presenting need and are safer because of the help they receive. Social workers know the children well and most children develop strong and trusting relationships with their social workers."

But it also added: "However, for some children living in neglectful and/or with domestic abuse, help is not provided consistently; they remain living in circumstances without sustained progress being made.

"For a few social workers, their high workloads impact on their ability to engage sufficiently with children and impedes the progression of plans."

Helen Boyd, councillor responsible for children and learning, welcomed the report.

She said: “It is heartening to see that the children in need of protection are getting the trust and stability they need from our social care team, who are doing everything they can to put the children at the heart of their decision making.

“The report reflects the hard work which has been taking place within social care, so staff feel a sense of “belonging”. 

“The team is made up of strong, skilful and committed managers and social care practitioners, who are delivering a good standard of support and care, and the report reflects this noting how “social work practice is developing and beginning to flourish”, with an approach to learning and development that is bespoke to each individual.”

Inspectors also found there needs to be “clarity about the legal status, assessment and support provided to those children placed with family and friends due to safeguarding concerns”.

Ms Boyd said: “We have to remember these children need our protection and support, and we must do everything we can to help them feel safe.

“There are lots of positives in this report and we need to use it as the springboard from which we can propel ourselves on to a ‘good’ rating. We're on the right path.”