The government revealed this week that local flexibility and
investment were the main concerns that were raised in the
consultation on the Children’s Green Paper ‘Every Child
Matters’, writes Clare Jerrom.
In its response to the green paper, published alongside the
Children Bill, the government said consultees had warned that local
flexibility was vital in order to deliver such a complex and
“Many respondents felt that the proposals to implement a
director of children’s services and a children’s trust
required both greater clarity about their purposes and greater
flexibility to cater for local circumstances,” said the
report “Every child matters: the next steps”.
Those who responded warned that the voluntary and community
sector, health services, schools and the police needed to be fully
involved. They also warned that the change needed to be supported
by “effective and efficient investment”.
The report said the government will take a number of steps
between now and 2006 to address the funding issue, though ministers
continue to insist much can be done through better use of existing
* A total of £340 million for local authorities in 2004-5
was provided in the 2003 Pre-Budget report to meet pressures on
existing children’s and other services.
* Some £100 million in 2004-5 and 2005-6 will be provided
through a specific formula grant for safeguarding children to help
address pressures on children’s services.
* As promised, a Young People’s Fund will be established
from The National Lottery with an initial budget of £200
million which the government will direct to ensure the fund is
focussed on projects promoting youth inclusion.
* An extra £20 million will be made available for a change
programme to support the green paper agenda children’s
minister Margaret Hodge announced. This money will be used to
support local authorities, primary care trusts and their local
partners with the development of children’s trusts, build
capacity in local authorities to support information sharing and
common assessment and develop the next generation of directors.
The report also sets out details on the flexibility around the
new children’s director roles. The bill specifies that the
director should cover as a minimum the functions relating to young
people that currently fall to chief education officers and
directors of social services. But local authorities will be free to
decide whether to add adult education, adult social services,
housing and leisure to the brief of the children’s services
While the intention behind the legislation is that the director
would be at chief officer or deputy chief executive level, the
report stressed that local authorities will want to consider
carefully how this role should be constituted.
It will also be down to authorities as to what organisational
structures will be needed and how delegation and line management
responsibilities should operate in support of the director.
The bill does not set a deadline for the appointment of
directors but “the expectation would be that most areas
should have a director by 2006 and all by 2008”. The guidance
makes clear that the Children Bill does not create Children’s
Trusts as statutory organisations, but it does facilitate and
encourage their development.
The report also highlights that the bill creates new
intervention powers in relation to children’s social services
to bring them into line with those relating to education
In July, the government will announce the 2004 spending review
and public service agreement targets which will outline long-term
targets and funding. In autumn, further next steps will be set out
detailing funding for the period 2005-2008 and the pay and
Every child matters: next steps from http://www.dfes.gov.uk/everychildmatters/