Local authorities should take a greater role in shaping children’s
services because of Whitehall job cuts, according to the
government’s most senior children’s civil servant.
David Normington, permanent secretary at the Department for
Education and Skills, said leadership of the change agenda outlined
in the Children Bill had to be devolved from the centre, and was
irreversible because of the job cuts in his department. It was
announced recently that the DfES was losing 31 per cent of its
workforce, or 1,460 jobs.
“There have been significant numbers of reductions in [our]
children and schools departments which will mean we won’t be able
to continue with some of the centrally directed initiatives,” he
Normington urged social services directors to “please not miss this
opportunity”, and went on to attack past failures of local
government. “Some opportunities that have been missed have been a
“We will invest time, effort and resources in the leadership and
workforce so there is a front line capable of making the most of
A children’s workforce unit will be created in the DfES to ensure
local services can cope with their new devolved responsibilities.