The independent review of children’s social care published its report yesterday. The report recognises that a conventional response of ‘top down’ rules is not likely to be fruitful, but it also identifies that many local systems do not have the robustness or resource to take on the full burden of reform.
The independent review of children’s social care published its report yesterday.
The report addresses two major dilemmas in children’s social care:
The report recognises that a conventional response of ‘top down’ rules is not likely to be fruitful, but it also identifies that many local systems do not have the robustness or resource to take on the full burden of reform. The report therefore advocates a programme to implement change over time, building on six key pillars of:
The report also recognises that children’s services needs to be understood in the wider context of poverty, mental health, domestic abuse and inequality, many of which have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
As for the vision of how care will be delivered, this is built around an understanding of the potential in supporting families, through consistent multi-disciplinary family help, and doing more to explore the ability for family networks to support children, before resorting to children coming into care.
That said, the report also advocates an empowered, ‘just and decisive’ child protection system able to intervene when concerns emerge. Interestingly, it recognises that engagement with parents may be improved by ensuring the parents themselves have representation and support to navigate the process, reflecting the desire to enable transparent and effective engagement with families.
The caveat to the principle of subsidiarity is, of course, that some services must be delivered at scale to be effective. The report advocates help for local authorities to ‘take back control’ through Regional Care Cooperatives (RCCs) to deliver regional public sector fostering, residential and secure care in their region, and with the ability to commission private provision at scale.
Having engaged with the review and with numerous stakeholders over the period in which the work was being done, it has been encouraging to see Josh MacAlister and his team openly tackling the key quandaries that need to be resolved to increase and clarify purpose of children’s services. It was important the report tackles the need for local delivery versus variation, and family relationships versus safeguarding, and it has so.
The RCC concept, which is really a recognition that each service should be delivered at the most effective scale, is not surprising but is important. A key challenge in creating a sustainable system is that this does not always happen at present, creating instability and uncertainty in demand, which can never be good for efficiency. A national care service is not recommended, and at a time when the Integrated Care System (ICS) project aims to increase regional focus local care delivery this makes sense.
That workforce is a priority is not surprising – this is an issue across health and care, and effective, joined up, workforce planning to develop rewarding, respected career paths in these key services is needed.
It is encouraging that the need for funding is addressed, including the recognition that during a system transition this will need to cover both operation of legacy systems, and development of the new. This is in contrast to the ICS transition, in which local authorities were offered no additional funding for the change itself.
Importantly, the report comes back to some of the basics of effective children’s social work: that children often thrive best with their own families; that when problems arise this is often multi factual; and that early intervention to address the broader challenges families face can prevent child protection concerns developing.
But the report also recognises that our best tool to keep children safe within their families are locally delivered services, driven with clear purpose, and led by skilled and empowered social workers.
The recommendations reflect work going on in many areas to improve services, but a national approach, with the right finding in place, could no doubt achieve more.
For those authorities looking to collaborate across regions, the report suggests that they are working with the current, and they are likely to be laying important groundwork for future change. For those who are less advanced in their plans, it may be time to move forward.
Of course, we will look forward to the Government response to the report and proposals for legislation in due course, but recent research we have carried out with LGiU demonstrates that effective working in systems is significantly driven by relationships rather than structures, and relationships can be built at any time.
In the same report, we also established that adequate, predictable funding was essential, and it is encouraging that the review’s report recognises this too.
Law firm Browne Jacobson has collaborated with Wiltshire Council and Christ Church Business School on the launch event of The Council Company Best Practice and Innovation Network, a platform which brings together academic experts and senior local authority leaders, allowing them to share best practice in relation to council companies.
Announced in September but scrapped on 17 November the investment zone proposals were very short lived. The proposal has now morphed into the proposal for a smaller number of clustered zones earmarked for investment.
On 2 November 2022, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the much awaiting case of Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority  UKSC 30. The Court’s judgment suggests that the long established practice of using drop-in applications is in fact much more restricted than previously thought. This judgment therefore has significant implications for both the developers and local planning authorities.
In ‘failure to remove’ claims, the claimant alleges abuse in the family home and asserts that the local authority should have known about the abuse and/or that they should have removed the claimant from the family home and into care earlier.
Across the UK, homelessness is an urgent crisis, and one that is set to grow amid the rising cost of living. Local authorities are at the forefront of responding to this crisis, but with a lack of properties that are suitable for social housing across the UK, vulnerable individuals and families are often housed in temporary accommodation.
Updates include UK Shared Prosperity Fund, contracts, Subsidy Control Bill, data controller liability, Government Covid-19 procurement and Highway Code revisions.
Investment zones have been introduced by the Conservative party to get the United Kingdom (UK) ‘working, building and growing’. They are to be designated sites which provide time-limited tax incentives, streamlined planning rules and wider support for local growth to encourage investment and accelerate the development of housing and infrastructure that the UK needs to drive economic growth. Processes and requirements that slow down development will be stripped back with the intention of attracting new investment.
Created at the end of the Brexit transition period, Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law that consists of EU-derived legislation retained in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement as parliament promised to deal with retained EU law through the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the “Bill”).
It is clear that the digital landscape, often termed cyberspace, is a man-made environment, in which human behaviour dominates and where technology both influences and aids our role in it — through the internet, telecoms and networked computer systems, which are often interdependent. The extent to which any organisation is potentially vulnerable to cyber-attack depends on how well these elements are aligned.
Three months on from the commencement of the new statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Anja Beriro and Gerrard Hanratty reflect on the main themes and issues that have come from the new relationship between local government and health.
The Procurement Bill (the Bill) has now been with us for about four months, during which time there have been a huge number of amendments proposed in the House of Lords (circa 320). Lately, there has been less mention of it — unsurprising, really, given everything else going on in politics recently — but here’s a summary of some of the key issues and themes so far.
Browne Jacobson has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Public Sector Legal Services Framework on Lot 1a – full-service provision (England and Wales) and Lot 2a – general service provision (England and Wales).
Browne Jacobson has been ranked as a Top Tier law firm in 25 key practice areas in Legal 500 UK 2023, the independent directory of comparative law firm performance. The firm also continues to underpin its status as one of the leading law firms in the East Midlands region with 16 Tier 1 rankings.
Welcome to our September edition of Public Matters, our monthly round-up of legal updates, news and insights for the public sector.
The Chancellor’s recent mini-budget provided a significant announcement for business as it was confirmed that the off-payroll working rules (known as “IR35”) put in place for public and private sector businesses from 2017 and 2021 will be scrapped from April 2023.
Devolution is the transfer of powers in areas like transport, housing and skills in England and since the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 has been a much-discussed topic.
In this article we look at local authority companies and whether they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. And for those that are, what information are they legally obliged to submit.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published a consultation on proposals to require Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) administering authorities (AAs) in England and Wales to assess, manage and report on climate change risks.
The Department for Education (DfE) have announced that the conversion of Donisthorpe Primary School in Leicestershire on 1st September marked the 10,000th academy conversion.
On 31 August 2022, the Court of Appeal handed down the Judgment in respect of the appeal case of HXA v Surrey County Council and YXA v Wolverhampton City Council .
This month, HM Treasury issued a consultation on Administrative Control Process for Public Sector Exits with draft guidance. They’re proposing to introduce an expanded approvals process for employee exits and special severance payments, and additional reporting requirements. If approved, the proposals will impact public sector bodies and those that do not have a specific right to make exit payments.