Social care in for more upheaval as the government bills keep coming

The government has been accused of
further undermining its agenda for integrated children’s services
by including legislation in this week’s Queen’s Speech to give
primary schools new freedoms.

An Education Bill would give primaries the same rights as secondary
schools to gain foundation status, and with it freedom to set their
own admissions arrangements, by a vote of the governing body.

Council children’s services leaders warned this could lead schools
to effectively refuse access to disadvantaged and vulnerable

Chris Waterman, executive director of the Confederation of
Education and Children’s Services Managers, said: “It will militate
against delivering the Every Child Matters agenda by promoting
competition between schools rather than co-operation.”

Former chair of the Association of Directors of Education and
Children’s Services David Hawker said: “It could drive a wedge
between schools and their partners in the children’s services

The move could jeopardise the government’s plans for extended
schools, most of which had been expected to be primaries.

The bill was one of 45 announced in the Queen’s Speech, almost half
of which affect social care (see panel).

As expected, the government has produced a Mental Health Bill but
there is no indication as yet whether it has responded to
criticisms that draft legislation emphasised public safety at the
expense of users’ rights.

The government will also legislate to create a register of people
barred from working with children and vulnerable adults by 2007,
implementing a key recommendation from Sir Michael Bichard’s
inquiry into the Soham murders.

This will build on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults, Protection
of Children Act and List 99 registers. However, following
criticisms of the exclusion of NHS staff from the Pova list,
charities warned that the register must be comprehensive.

Richard Kramer, director of policy at Turning Point, said: “The
bill should include people employed in day care services, the NHS
as well as those in social care.”

The government has also proposed a new Immigration and Asylum Bill,
the sixth raft of asylum legislation since 1993.

It includes new civil penalties for people employing illegal
immigrants, although the government has not confirmed whether it
will also make refugee status temporary, as promised in the
five-year plan on asylum.

Selected bills announced in queen’s speech affecting
social care

  • Charities Bill, public benefit test
    for charities.
  • Work and Families: Childcare Bill,
    duty for councils to ensure child care for children up to 14.
  • Work and Families: Parental Rights
    Bill, extension of maternity pay from six to nine months.
  • Child Contact and Inter-Country
    Adoption Bill, powers for courts to enforce contact orders.
  • Commissioner for Older People (Wales)
    Bill, commissioner to represent older people, with right to take up
    individual cases.
  • Consumer Credit Bill, greater
    protection against unfair lending.
  • Corporate Manslaughter Bill,
    companies to be targeted for health and safety failings with fatal
  • Equality Bill, to create Commission
    for Equality and Human Rights.
  • Government of Wales Bill, provides
    for increased legislative powers for Welsh Assembly.
  • Housing Benefit Bill, new flat-rate
    allowances paid to tenants not landlords.
  • Health Improvement and Protection
    Bill, will ban smoking in most public places.
  • Incapacity Benefit Bill, increased
    benefits for severely disabled, work incentives for the rest.
  • Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill,
    extends incitement laws to Christians and Muslims.
  • Management of Offenders and
    Sentencing Bill, extends tagging for people on community sentences
    and bail.
  • National Lottery Bill, establishes
    single distribution body The Big Lottery Fund.
  • Violent Crime Bill, measures to
    tackle antisocial behaviour.

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