Children's social care services in Hartlepool have been rated ‘good’ following an official inspection.
Ofsted carried out an inspection of the services provided by Hartlepool Borough Council in July and said arrangements are "highly effective".
Services were rated good overall and one area for the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers was judged to be ‘outstanding’.
Ofsted said in their report which has just been published: "Since the last inspection, children have received more timely and proportionate help when needs have arisen or risks have increased.
"Multi-agency arrangements are stronger and highly effective. Children and young people are safer, and their life chances are improving."
Council chiefs have welcomed the report which they say comes following nine years of government funding cuts amounting to £20.9m by 2019-20, a reduction of 45% since 2010/11.
Services were rated good for the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families and the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection
Ofsted added: “Children in care and care leavers receive an outstanding service. They are ‘cared for’ and ‘cared about’. They benefit from stable relationships with trusted adults who are committed to providing long-term stability during childhood and beyond.”
Councillor Brenda Harrison, Chair of the council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “Since the last inspection in 2013, which rated the service as good, there have been sustained progress and further improvements made in the care and support provided to children and I am delighted these have been recognised.
“I’m particularly pleased staff have been recognised in the report for their determination to improve children’s life experiences and that, despite increasing workloads, the quality and impact of practice have been maintained and, in some aspects, improved.
“This is an excellent report, but we won’t be complacent and our ambition now is to ensure children’s social care services continue to improve and develop.”
Coun Harrison added: “This report is made all the more remarkable as it follows nine consecutive years of funding cuts from Central Government.
“Despite these significant cuts, Hartlepool Borough Council has continued to protect Children’s Services and spending has actually increased by 27% from £14.4 million in 2010/11, to £18.3 million in 2018/19."
The increase in spending has been funded partly from council reserves with a further £3.5m set aside for children's services in 2019-20.
But Coun Harrison said the use of reserves is not sustainable and called on the government to provide extra funding for councils nationally from 2020-21
Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, has written to Hartlepool congratulating “everyone at the council
involved in achieving this brilliant outcome.”
He added: “I was particularly pleased to read about the outstanding services provided to children in care and care leavers, who are not only ‘cared for’ but ‘cared about’.
"More generally, the report makes clear that services for vulnerable children in Hartlepool have improved from an already strong base since Ofsted’s last inspection in 2014; the stable and highly motivated workforce have played a critical role in this.”