INSPECTORS who branded Wirral Council's children's services "inadequate" just over two years ago will find a "much improved" department when they return, a senior councillor has said.

The authority faced sharp criticism in an OFSTED report that found a catalogue of issues in the way the service was run and operated in 2016.

It has been under close scrutiny from the watchdog which has returned regularly to ensure improvements have been implemented, monitored and sustained.

Cllr Bernie Mooney, cabinet member for children and families, said those problems have been addressed, despite a period of unprecedented financial pressure for the local authority.

There are currently 840 children in council care. The borough, like many other local authorities, faces increasing demand for social care services from troubled and at-risk young people and families and an ever shrinking budget.

Cllr Mooney said: "We deserved to be criticised by Ofsted and the department, despite the hard work of many dedicated staff who wanted to make the lives of children and families under their care better, was failing to live up to the standards we expected.

"But this is no longer the case.

"This council has ploughed £20 million extra investment into children's services under the leadership of Paul Boyce who was brought in to sort things out and it is now a much improved different department.

"Anyone who visits Wirral's children’s services now will find a better resourced, better focused and better managed children’s services than ever before."

Paul Boyce was brought in as the new director of children's services in 2017 found the department was "inadequate".

Last year, despite massive budget cuts, the council leadership set aside almost £20million to invest in improving social care.

This has allowed the department to reduce the number of agency workers supporting vulnerable children, increase the number of safeguarding staff and fund the increased cost of placements for young people in care.

In the wake of these changes repeated visits from Ofsted inspectors have revealed continuous improvement in Wirral's Children’s Services.

Cllr Mooney added: "Despite clear signs our children's services is making good progress we are most definitely not resting our laurels.

"This is an ongoing process of improvement which we must never allow to stop and I will be making sure Wirral's children receive the best care possible."