Report urges councils to receive cash to commission advice

Local authorities should be given ring-fenced funding to commission advice on children’s services if and when they need it, a leading think-tank will propose in a new report.

The research from Demos, which is published next month, argues that government budgets for advice should be devolved to local authorities to allow them to commission advice from central government or other organisations.

The report states that advisors are currently assigned according to the ‘organisational logic’ of the Department for Education and Skills and other departments rather than the needs of local authorities.

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social Workers, welcomed the idea, saying it would allow councils to get tailored advice.

“While they [the government] talk about celebrating diversity, in actual fact they don’t,” he said.

The study, which was produced by Demos and recruitment consultancy GatenbySanderson, also proposes that at least one member of every children’s services inspection team should be someone who currently works in a different local authority.

Paul Fallon, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services Children and Families Committee, said the proposal would increase inspectors’ insight into the day-to-day reality of children’s services.

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