The background to this policy is a series of high profile deaths of at-risk children in the past two decades, notable among them 17-month-old Baby Peter and four-year-old Daniel Pelka. Perceived failures in such cases gave rise to a focus on child protection services and led in 2015 to the then Prime Minister David Cameron announcing that “inadequate” council children’s services would be taken over by independent trusts made up of high-performing councils and charities (something that had already happened in some cases). This policy is essentially a restatement of that intention.
Interestingly, Doncaster Council, which was the first to establish a children’s services trust, in 2014, is taking back greater budgetary control due to concerns about the trust’s financial sustainability.
As far as helping local authorities commission high-quality services, the Autumn Budget in 2018 did announce £84 million over five years to expand children’s social care programmes. However, this is set against a funding gap identified by various charities and experts which would require significantly greater investment to bridge.
The continuing transfer of children’s services from some councils to trusts is an indication that this policy is ‘in progress’. However, with ongoing concerns about funding levels and no legal requirement for councils judged inadequate by Ofsted to hand over children’s services to trusts, it’s hard to see how government is enforcing its “demand” for high quality.
We’ll keep tracking the formation, and dissolution, of children’s services trusts, as well as government funding of this sector, so follow this policy to keep up to date.
Demand high-quality details!
- Timeline of Baby P case – BBC News
- Timeline: Missed opportunities in Daniel Pelka case – BBC News
- Councils face losing control of failing children’s services – The Guardian
- Worst children’s services face takeover, PM says – BBC News
- Treasury Minutes: Government responses to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Twenty Sixth, the Twenty Seventh and the Twenty Ninth to the Thirty Fourth reports from Session 2016-17 – Child Protection – Gov.uk
- Bright Futures: Getting the best for children, young people and families – One Year On – Local Government Association