Green paper could lead to financial crisis, government warned

Children’s services leaders have warned that reforms
proposed under the green paper on children could lead to a
financial crisis, writes Derren

Jane Held, co-chairperson of the Association of Directors of
Social Services’ children and families committee, said the
government’s measures were not properly resourced.

She told a conference on reforming children’s services in
London, there was “silence” on the resource
implications of proposals to pool health and social services and
education budgets.

“I suspect that once they put all the various
children’s services together, having worked under the myth
that they have put lots of money in and become more efficient, what
they will have done is put together a collective underspend and got
a very big problem.”

Held was also worried about the green paper’s emphasis on
council structures and the pace of change the government was

She was “uncomfortable” with the proposals on
children’s trusts, strategic partnerships and safeguarding
boards in ‘Every Child Matters’ because they focus on
structures rather than outcomes for children.

However, she applauded the government’s “ambition
for children” and said the other elements of the green paper
– such as the common assessment framework, information
sharing, and integrated performance measures – offered an
opportunity to put children’s interests at the heart of an
outcomes-based service.

Held added that the quick pace of change – the government
plans to legislate shortly to introduce some of the proposals
– would be pointless if it didn’t also change the way
people saw children.
“We believe that integration takes time: why not take account
of the pathfinders (pilot children’s trusts) before rushing
into new ideas for the sake of it.”

Roger Singleton, Barnardo’s chief executive, said it was
important attention on the green paper didn’t result in
“our eye being taken off the way frontline services are

“The whole process will be very time consuming on middle
managers – they are the ones that sit on steering groups and
sub-committees. I think there is a danger that all the
restructuring that is bound to follow could lead to a neglect of
quality on the frontline,” he said.

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