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Government shelves controversial 'Duty to Act' on children's services

7 March 2018

The Government has rejected the proposal that social workers who do not report suspected child abuse should be subject to criminal charges at individual and local authority level. Sanctions were proposed where a social worker consciously took no action, or the action that was taken was insufficient or inappropriate. 51% of those consulted considered that such a duty would adversely impact the work undertaken on child protection. Following consultation the Government have advised that the case for mandatory reporting or a duty to act has not been made.

The Government’s decision will be welcome news to local authorities whose resources are already stretched. These duties would have required that professionals prioritise resources for investigations at the expense of resources to provide early support for children and families before problems escalate. Figures suggest that across the country there will be a £2 billion funding deficit in this area by 2020.

The demand placed on children’s services is growing at an astounding rate. The Government’s decision allows local authorities to focus on building public confidence in the child protection systems and providing support for families.

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