Children’s services in Wandsworth still need significant improvement, according to inspectors.

Although praising the “diligent” work by the council to make strides since it was rated inadequate in January 2016, the latest Ofsted report, released on July 20, makes it clear there is still a long way to go.

Particular shortcomings the inspectors identified included delays in finding adoptive and permanent carers for children; ineffective oversight of private fostering; and slow progress in identifying health needs of children in care.

Leader of the Labour opposition Cllr Simon Hogg called the inspection “extremely disappointing”.

He said: “The council leader, Cllr Govindia, and the cabinet member for education and children, Cllr McDermott, should accept responsibility for these failings.

“They should do the decent thing and step aside to let others lead the move to improve Wandsworth Children’s Services.”

Inspectors said the high staff turnover in some of the social care teams means children are left without consistency, harming their progress.

The Labour group has criticised the decision to use £15 million taken from the borough’s reserves to pay agency staff to help deal with the services’ problems.

Cllr Jeremy Ambache, Labour spokesman for education and children’s services, said: “It was a mistake by the Conservatives to allocate temporary extra money to be used for temporary agency social work staff; additional funds will now be allocated this year and next.

“Children would be better served by allocating funds to the departmental budget so that permanent staff can be employed – providing continuity and security to Wandsworth’s most vulnerable children.”

But the report contained some positives, among them that children in need of help are now identified quickly; disabled children are now receiving a good social work service; and a scheme set up to prevent child sexual exploitation is now well-established and is providing “comprehensive” safety plans for children at risk.

Cllr Sarah McDermott, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This report clearly shows that children’s services are moving in the right direction, and I would like to thank staff for their dedication and hard work in helping improve the work of the department.

“The support and protection of our children and young people is vital to this borough and it is so important that we can now say with confidence that children in Wandsworth are safe, that the quality of help and support provided to children and families has improved and that the department no longer needs outside intervention.

“These are all really good outcomes but as the council recognised in its own self-assessment there is still more to do in securing best practice, particularly in the areas of child exploitation, securing permanent family arrangements for children coming into care and taking more account of some children’s views when we are working with them.

“Our top priority is to recruit and retain the best staff and the authority continues to work to attract and employ the right people.

“We have over 140 social workers in Wandsworth, a number of whom are agency workers, and we are constantly striving to establish consistency in this area.”