MPs insist government child reform agenda will need additional funds

MPs have dismissed the government’s claim that implementing reforms
in Every Child Matters can be done without extra money.

In a report published this week, the education and skills committee
says it is not convinced the government has properly assessed the
financial implications of its reform agenda.

“It is not clear on what basis the government is able to assume
that Every Child Matters will be largely self-financing,” the MPs
“We are doubtful that a policy as ambitious as Every Child Matters
can be funded in the main from existing budgets.”

Their report adds that there is a strong case for identifying
additional funds for areas such as workforce development and the
set up and maintenance costs for children’s trusts. Extra dedicated
resources should also be ring-fenced to ensure successful

“Significant reservations” about the local children’s databases
included in the Children Act 2004 are also raised by the committee,
including significant concerns around issues such as security,
confidentiality and access.

It adds that there is no evidence that the database, which will
include children’s names, their schools and their GPs, is the best
use of resources or the way to improve outcomes.

It also warns that the agenda could be undermined because schools,
GPs and other services do not have a statutory duty to collaborate
in children’s trusts arrangements and may choose not to

Incentives and penalties are “unlikely” to be adequate to make
reluctant schools take part and the government must clarify what
additional incentives it may offer, the MPs warn.

“With no extra resources identified for the implementation of Every
Child Matters in general, we are concerned that with many pressures
on primary care trusts and other budgets, crucial Every Child
Matters-related training will not be given the priority it

An independent review of the role and remit of the children’s
commissioner should be commissioned within three years of the
appointment, the committee also recommends.

“We have yet to be convinced that a children’s commissioner role
primarily defined in terms of promoting children’s views will be as
effective in practice as one focused on promoting and protecting
children’s rights.”

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