THE leader of BCP Council has pledged to invest in children’s services, although he attributes much of the council’s £7m overspend to the department.

Cllr Drew Mellor told this week’s Cabinet that he would not shy away from the situation and would address its needs with further spending, if required.

“We will provide the funds to make sure we deliver,” he said.

The leader said that he remained confident that the overall overspend would be tackled and by February the council would be in a position to deliver a strong budget for the coming financial year.

Deputy leader Philip Broadhead said the children’s services overspend had not come as a surprise and was being tackled.

“The vast majority of spending is in areas where it is needed most, in children’s services…it will cost money but we are happy with that… we are investing, we’re being prudent and we are working to make sure children’s services is fit for the future,” he said.

Last year Ofsted said the department suffered “serious and widespread weaknesses” uncovered during a visit in October.

A team of Ofsted inspectors made a day-long visit after concerns were raised by the Department for Education about the quality of its work.

A letter to the council afterwards said that vulnerable children were being left “at risk of harm” with many assessments by social workers “unfit for purpose” and criticism also made about the quality of management.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said at the time it would closely monitor the council and would not hesitate to take action where children are being put at risk.

The December Cabinet meeting was told that the department has produced an action plan to tackle all the points raised by the focused inspection.

A full inspection of the BCP Council service by Ofsted is expected to take place later this year, with a team of its officers currently carrying out a three-week look at the work of neighbouring Dorset Council.