Government plans for charities to take over poorly performing children’s services at local authorities are like "deckchair rearrangement on a fleet of torpedoed ships", the chief executive of Children England said yesterday.
Kathy Evans said the government's plans failed to address the fundamental problem of under-resourced services.
Yesterday the government announced plans to reform children’s services which means that failing children’s services must improve, or they will be taken over. This will include a drive to recruit new trust sponsors from the charity sector to “help deliver innovative children’s services”.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will also chair a roundtable in the new year with local authorities, as well as major charities such as Barnardo’s and the NSPCC.
Kathy Evans, chief executive of Children England, said: “After a Spending Review that failed to mention child protection and children in care at all, and dealt the councils responsible for their care the savage blow of further 56 per cent budget cuts, threats to takeover ‘failing’ children’s services teams looks like deckchair re-arrangement on a fleet of torpedoed ships.
She added: “Children’s charities right across the country are committed to collaborating with councils in whatever ways they can to help preserve and improve the safety net for children – but with over £150m cuts to their government funding last year alone, we are also seeing, first hand, the severe impact on children and young people, and on the multi-agency working that is so important to keep them safe.”
As part of yesterday’s announcement the Prime Minister revealed that Sunderland’s children’s services will become a voluntary trust.
Evans said: “Handover to trusts is a very new initiative and the jury is still out on whether, and how, they might help. They are certainly no panacea, and with Doncaster’s takeover trust recently rated ‘Inadequate’, the Prime Minister should show more caution in presuming that takeovers are a decisive or strong solution.”
She also pointed to a recent Local Governement Association report that suggested Ofsted inspection was “inadequate”. And said: “This is another indication that current government policies are radically failing to appreciate, let alone address, the real situation facing children’s services.”