THE council’s Chief Executive has praised the authority’s transformation programme for its impact on children’s services, despite an increase in the number of children looked after by the authority.

The News reported in July that the number of children looked after by Bracknell Forest Council had risen by 18 per cent from 116 to 138 by March 2018, and new figures show there are now 151 looked after children in the borough, compared to 144 in the previous quarter.

Timothy Wheadon, Chief Executive of Bracknell Forest Council, said in a report produced for the executive: “This (rise) is to be commended in a context where other authorities are seeing a 30% increase in this quarter.

“Therefore our increase is at a much slower rate than other authorities.

“I believe this is due to our transformation work streams including family safeguarding.

“The referral rate to Children’s Social Care is down from 202.5 to 168.8 (per 10,000 under 18), again showing that the transformation work streams and practice improvements are working allowing us to support families earlier in the process to maximise their chances of solving any problems”

Mr Wheadon also highlighted in his quarterly report to the council that the authority is seeing lower than expected numbers of children using its protection service.

He wrote: “This is as a result of our transformation work streams, including family safeguarding.”

The News this week reported that the council is set to spend £700,000 less on children’s services in the coming year as part of its transformation programme.

The CEO also praised the council’s recent restructure and the impact it has had in creating a “dynamic directorate”.

Mr Wheadon claimed it has been “business as usual” during the restructure and he signposted a number of council achievements during this process.

These included a “strong inspection outcome” for the council’s community learning service, the opening of a second chapel at the crematorium, and all six Green Flag sites in the borough retained their status this year.

However the CEO pointed out that the council has had to pause its Local Plan process due to results from an earlier consultation on housing and a change in the methodology for calculating the borough’s housing needs.

The council is also working towards improving the number of successful planning appeals after last quarter’s figures showed only 36 per cent were approved – 30 per cent below the authority’s target.

Mr Wheadon will present his quarterly report to the council’s top branch at a meeting on Tuesday, December 18.