Cafcass aims to head off case backlogs with realistic pay offer

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service hopes
to make staff a “realistic” pay offer and stop case
backlogs from rising, despite its financial woes,
writes Mithran Samuel.

In an interview with Community Care, chief executive Anthony
Douglas said emergency financial measures had significantly lowered
a projected overspend of £4 million for 2005-6.

He now hopes to make staff a “realistic offer”, with
pay negotiations expected to open next week.

In a letter to Douglas last week, Napo and Unison reiterated
warnings that a serious dispute would be inevitable if Cafcass made
an “unacceptable offer”.

Douglas also said that Cafcass’s financial troubles had
not yet led to an increase in backlogs, despite a freeze on all
inessential recruitment and reduced use of self-employed

However, he warned that it would have to increase spending in
2006-7 on training, IT infrastructure and salaries, saying that
Cafcass’s pay was “very uncompetitive” in some

This would necessitate a smaller, more productive workforce,
assuming its government grant increased by no more than inflation
next year, he said.

Later this month Douglas will publish a strategy for reforming
working practices, which will include greater scrutiny of
practitioners’ performance and productivity, and seems
destined to increase tensions with staff.

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