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BASW response to PM statement: failing children's services will be taken over

Responding to the government statement on children’s services, released today, BASW Chief Executive Bridget Robb stated: “All children deserve support from a first rate children’s service. This is why the continued onslaught of underfunding and criticism from central government is so damaging. Not only are good services being hit by the lack of funds to local government, but good managers and staff are being lost to the service by the barrage of criticism. This results in the children receiving a less good service and feeling stigmatised.”

Within the statement, Prime Minister David Cameron has set out plans for services that persistently fail young people to be taken out of councils’ hands and given to other high-performing local authorities, children’s charities or “teams of experts”.

Ms Robb further responded, “This clearly follows the path of taking children's services out of local government control in England. – The failed model of bringing in private companies tried in Doncaster and Sandwell is now to be replaced by charities and other experts. There is no evidence they can do better. Running complex children's services for the most vulnerable children in our society is not like running a school. The academies model is not relevant.

“It is relevant for successful local authorities to work with struggling ones to encourage good practice, but this has been going on for a while, so it is not new practice.

“We know that the pattern of local safeguarding boards is also under threat as they don't deliver on high quality services everywhere. Perhaps they could if they were given a clear legal mandate to intervene and were resourced properly, but this is not on the government’s agenda.

“The direction of travel is to take children's services out of local government control, for a more centralised agenda of delivering services through models approved by the Department of Education. Gone will be the local democratic accountability for the lives of children, and local innovation and flexibility.

“This central control will be further strengthened by the extra funds to a single contracted model of social work education. This approach is not only splitting the profession, as it is contrary to the professional commitment and proven best practice of a generic education for new entrants, but is promoting one model of working with children. At a time of great organisational change this does not prepare people for long-term careers in the profession. It is also undermining the viability of university based social work education with an impact on jobs and student options.

“So the Prime Minister may be thinking he is doing the best by children, but he is failing them by this ideologically driven attack.

“Please talk to the profession – and not just civil servants and those with vested interests to destroy our good children's services.”

Click here to read the full statement issued by the Prime Minister.