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Demand highest-quality family support and child protection services from local authorities

Last updated: 09:56am 19 July 2019

We will demand all local authorities be commissioners of the highest-quality family support and child protection services, removing these responsibilities from the weakest councils and placing them in trust.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.73

Our verdict

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.

Under this government, several children’s services trusts have been established or are planned, including in Northamptonshire, Reading and Birmingham.

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!

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