Spiralling safeguarding children board costs worry local authorities

Children’s services leaders have called for extra funding for councils’ local safeguarding children boards after a quarter of those responding to a Community Care survey said they faced major extra financial pressures.

The boards are costing these councils more than 50 per cent more to run than their predecessors, area child protection committees, according to the survey, carried out in partnership with the Association of Directors of Social Services and the Association of Directors of Education and Children’s Services.

A further quarter of councils said the boards were costing 21-50 per cent more than ACPCs, and 72 per cent overall said the boards cost more to run.

Interim Adecs chair David Hawker said the survey, which covered 64 local authorities, showed the government must provide extra funding for the boards, which had to be up and running by 1 April.

“The LSCBs have a wider remit [than the ACPCs] and arranging the partnership itself is quite an expensive business. There ought to be a relatively low level grant given to local authorities to manage the LSCB,” he said.

Almost half of the councils said extra costs were being met from sources including other board members, the government children’s services grant to councils, and extra money from within councils.

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes told Community Care earlier this month that she expected councils to negotiate contributions from other members to help pay for the extra costs, but 13 per cent of councils responding to the survey said they did not receive any funding this way.

Andrew Webb, co-chair of the ADSS children and families committee, said: “They [partners] are giving them [resources] at a much lower level than is required. We have contributions from all the main agencies and it doesn’t go far enough.”

Hawker said many partner agencies were reluctant to donate any funding. “Some do [contribute resources] because they know that it’s in their own interests but it does take a fairly enlightened partnership to say that and then commit the resources to it.”

OTHER SURVEY FINDINGS

  • Almost three-quarters of LSCB chairs are council employees.
  • 22 per cent of chairs are independent of all board partners.
  • 42 per cent of councils are yet to create a children’s trust.


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