CREATIVITY and teamwork has enabled a council facing unprecedented pressures to fund its social care services to become the country’s first to be rated outstanding for its services for children in need of help and protection, according to a Government minister.

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi MP hailed North Yorkshire County Council for receiving the top grade from Ofsted for its social care under a new inspections which focus on the effectiveness of frontline practice.

Ofsted described the local authority as “a committed and effective corporate parent”.

Mr Zahawi said the council was showing what could be achieved despite the “significant challenges” local authorities were facing in providing social care services.

He said: “It’s clear from the report that vulnerable children are receiving timely, tailored support that’s making a positive difference in their lives. This is down in no small part to the strong vision of the council’s senior leaders and the shared sense of purpose found throughout the service.”

While the authority’s leaders welcomed the rating, they expressed concerns keeping the outstanding rating would be difficult.

Councillor Janet Sanderson, the council’s children and families boss, said costs for the start of the finanical year showed the authority was again facing “great financial challenges” and would have to “cut its cloth according”.

She said: “There’s absolutely no doubt we are under great financial pressure and we will try as hard as we can to maintain that high standard by continuing to look at it in an innovative manner.”

The authority’s leader Councillor Carl Les said the rating was just reward for the council’s work to lower its budget and cut services sooner than many of its counterparts.

He it was continuing to press the Government for a social care funding solution.

Cllr Les said: “It is always a challenge to maintain an outstanding rating. It’s easier to become the best than stay the best.”