A key recommendation of Lord Laming’s inquiry report has
received a lukewarm response from the Association of Directors of
Social Services, writes Sally Gillen.
In its response to the report, which was published in January,
it said that the creation of a local management board for children
and families does “not sit easily with the structures that will be
in place in most local authorities”.
President David Behan, who wrote the response, said the ADSS
welcomes Laming’s desire to embed the accountability of
councillors in local authority structures to ensure they are
responsible for children’s services. But it believes this can
be best done through the current system.
Most councils switched from a committee system to a cabinet one,
which has scrutiny arrangements and therefore improved
accountability, as part of the modernisation agenda set out in the
Local Government Act 2000, said Behan.
He also argued that the audit of children’s services
currently being carried out by social services departments will
“reveal the degree of fit between the expectations of current
frontline practice and the reality”.
There is an assumption that a large number of the
recommendations relate to simple issues of best practice, and can
be easily achieved but, said Behan, it is not clear whether the
resources already exist within the system to implement them.
He added that a joint budget survey that the ADSS carried out
with the Local Government Association for 2003-04, shows the new
grants will not meet existing pressures in children’s
Other recommendations in the report, such as the proposed
scrapping of area child protection committees, have also met with a
cool response. If it is abolished, the acpcs should be replaced by
a similar local body, but one that has greater statutory
responsibilities and clear lines of accountability, said the