THE council hopes improvements will be made to Children's Services after the appointment of an external provider.

Brighter Futures for Children will now be responsible for delivering the service across the borough.

The department was placed into special measures in 2016 after Ofsted found a string of failures, but follow-up visits have identified substantial progress.

Tony Kildare, managing director of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “We are very excited that Brighter Futures for Children is launching at a time when change is needed.

“We will work closely with partners and a wide range of stakeholders to improve services and deliver the best life chances for our children and young people.

"We believe there is a critical role for the private sector to play in supporting our young people to gain the best opportunities, whether through training, apprenticeship or employment.

“We are determined that our children and young people in Reading have a voice in shaping the kinds of services we deliver.”

The council was criticised in the original inspection after children were not visited by social workers in the appropriate timeframe.

It has since worked closely with the Department for Education to drive forward improvements and councillors supported the change.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, the leader of the council, added: “This is a significant day, which marks a fundamental change in the way Children’s Social Care, Early Help and Education services are delivered in Reading.

“There has been a tremendous amount of work to drive forward improvements to Children’s Services and the council will not lose sight of its ambition to ensure the borough’s children and young people receive the best possible services.”

The company has its own independent board and a decision-making process separate to the council.

Peter Sloman, chief executive of the council, said: “The transfer of Children’s Services to Brighter Futures for Children will result in a step change in the way services are provided for young people in Reading.

“The new company is led by an experienced and dedicated team who will have the flexibility and adaptability to accelerate the pace of improvements required for Children’s Services.”