Housing needs bigger role in Children Bill

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The Children Bill does not give sufficient priority to the role
of housing in protecting children, according to two of the most
senior people charged with implementing its proposals,
writes Ruth Winchester.

At Community Care Live’s Question Time, chair of
the Commission for Social Care Inspection Denise Platt praised the
government’s aspirations for child protection, but said that
the bill failed to “adequately address” issues around
housing.

She said that the interface between housing services and other
agencies was key in the case of Victoria Climbie, adding that the
bill might need to change to reflect that.

“There were some key elements in that case that actually
have to be addressed in moving policy forward,” Platt
said.

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge agreed: “Housing
has a key role. I don’t think we have done enough about
housing.”

There is currently substantial pressure on the government to
amend the bill to give social services authorities more powers to
ensure vulnerable families are housed.

Former housing minister Sally Keeble MP is expected to table an
amendment to the bill when it reaches the House of Commons which,
if passed, would give heads of children’s services the power
to overrule housing authorities when child safety was an issue.

The bill is currently being debated at committee stage in the
House of Lords.

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