Leeds City Council's '£1,000 a day' job

An expert hired to help improve Leeds's troubled children's services is to cost the city's council tax payers about £1,000 a day.

Eleanor Brazil will take up the job of interim director of children's services and will hold the post until a permanent director is appointed later in the year.

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It is understood she has been appointed through an agency at a cost of about 1,000 a day. Since January last year she has been working as a deputy director at Haringey, having been brought in to help turn around children's social care at the London borough which was at the centre of the baby P scandal.

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Her appointment in Leeds comes in the wake of a series of highly critical reports by independent inspectors into the city's children's services.

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Following the publication of the reports, Rosemary Archer – the council's social services director – took early retirement and left at the end of last December.

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An Improvement Board — reporting to children's minister Dawn Primarolo – has been established to oversee improvements to children's services in Leeds.

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The cost of hiring Ms Brazil has come under fire from Labour councillors.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, Labour's children's services spokeswoman, said: "At 1,000 a day of taxpayers' money, we are in for a very expensive burden as Ms Brazil will need to stay until a suitable, permanent replacement is found.

"All this expense at a time when funds should be directed towards recruiting more front line social workers to safeguard the children of Leeds."

Coun Stewart Golton, executive member responsible for children's services, said: "We are very pleased to be appointing Eleanor Brazil as our interim director of children's services.

"Although we cannot discuss the financial arrangements surrounding the appointment we are satisfied that it is no more than is the average for obtaining the specialist knowledge and experience required for this post.

"In appointing Eleanor, the council has obtained the services of a talented and experienced leader and manager. The children's services agenda is very large and there are many challenges ahead, so it is vital that this role is filled by the highest calibre of person.

"Eleanor will oversee the council's improvement agenda for children's services and lay the foundations for the new permanent director, who will be appointed later in the year."

Her previous posts include director of social services and housing in the London Borough of Sutton, and a director in Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust. Since 2006, she has held senior interim roles as deputy director joint commissioning in Liverpool, and as director of adult services in Herefordshire.

It is not the first time the council has turned to agencies for the temporary appointment of senior staff.

Adult social services last year used an agency to hire two senior managers on a contract to help implement a series of changes. The value of the contract was not revealed.

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