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Government scraps ICT plans to save £15m

Education secretary Michael Gove has this week written to directors of children’s services informing them that the £15 million plans to improve ICT systems have been scrapped.

In the letter which set out Gove’s commitment to reducing the government’s End Year Flexibility requirements by £1 billion, he confirmed: “We will not proceed with plans announced just before the election of formulaic allocation to local authorities to enhance social work IT provision.”

Acknowledging the difficulties the decisions would cause, Gove said the previous Labour government had announced the grant of £15 million in 2010-2011, but that it was no longer available.

“Ensuring that social workers are freed up from bureaucracy on the front line and able to make the most difference for children and their families is a critical priority for the government,” Gove said in an accompanying document.

“These issues are being examined by the Munro Review, including the question of how ICT can best support effective social work practice,” he added.

Ahead of Professor Eileen Munro’s review and given the current economic circumstances and need to make cuts, delivering the grant was not considered “the most effective way of supporting the sector”, he added.

The document also made clear that local authorities would still need to address IT problems where they are causing difficulties for social workers and insisted there was guidance from the Department for Education to help them to do so.

Local authorities may choose to address IT issues using money from the £23m Social Work Improvement Fund, which has been protected, Gove added.