MONMOUTHSHIRE County Council faces unprecedented challenges in providing social care and struggles with recruitment and retention of staff an inspection carried out by Care Inspectorate Wales has concluded.

The inspection was carried out in February and aimed to review the performance of Monmouthshire County Council's children's services, identifying the strengths of the service and the areas for improvement.

According to the inspection, leaders and staff at Monmouthshire County Council take great pride in the service they provide  and have a good understanding of the strengths of the service and the areas needing improvement. The report also refers to the 'coherent' approach in relation to early support for children and families.

However, the local authority faces unprecedented challenges in providing social care. The recovery from the pandemic has led to increased demand for services and people with increasingly complex needs. In conjunction with significant budgetary pressures, these challenges have put a strain on social care provision.

Recruitment and retention remain ongoing priorities with the competitive market nationally and regionally for quality social care staff posing ongoing challenges. However, the council has put in place a plan to reduce the use of agency staff and the stability of the workforce has improved since.

The inspection identified some concerns about compliance with statutory requirements in child safeguarding, particularly in relation to the timeliness of child protection visits and case conferences and MCC recognises the importance of addressing these concerns and is committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in its care.

The authority has finished restructuring services for children and families in need of support and protection, and is developing a new model of practice, standards of practice and quality assurance framework but sustainable progress is needed to improve compliance with statutory requirements and create consistency.

A Care Inspectorate Wales spokesman said: "The performance evaluation inspection is a valuable resource highlighting achievements and areas for development. You can see that MCC remains committed to providing high quality children's services and will continue to work to improve the well-being and safety of children in Monmouthshire. We will continue to work with the team to monitor progress through our ongoing performance review activity."