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No Good Options: Report of the Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in England

Over the past five years, demand for children’s social services has increased, while local authorities’ overall spending power has decreased. There is also evidence that the nature of need has shifted, with much greater focus on issues such as radicalisation and child sexual exploitation. This Inquiry has brought together evidence about the current resourcing of children’s social services and changes in the nature and level of demand, to improve our understanding of the challenges facing under-performing children’s services, and how to address them.

The Inquiry has identified key areas in which improvement is essential, if children’s services are to reach all children and young people in need of support.In February 2016 the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) launched an Inquiry into children’s social care. The objective of the Inquiry was to investigate local arrangements for the delivery of these services in light of changes in resources and demand, and diversity in performance and outcomes across England. It aimed to:

  • Bring together evidence about the current resourcing of children’s social care services and changes in the nature and level of demand;
  • Explore the impact (or potential impact) of these changes on the delivery of children’s social care services and on children and young people;
  • Build a picture of the key elements of a successful children’s services department and the challenges facing areas that are struggling to improve, and share examples of good practice; and
  • Assess whether changes are needed to policy and legislation in order to improve the delivery of children’s social care services and in turn
  • outcomes for children.

The context for this Inquiry was the growing recognition that children’s services are struggling to meet the twin challenge of growing need and shrinking resource. The immediate consequences of this are captured in the NAO’s recent report on Children in Need of Help and Protection. The recommendations set out in this report are designed to inform the design and implementation of social care policy, with a focus on improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families.