Oldham Council has become the latest English authority to appoint a joint director for children’s and adult services, in spite of government guidelines strongly advising against the practice.
The authority’s adults and community services directorate will merge with the children, young people and families department to create a new people, communities and society directorate.
Veronica Jackson, currently director for adult services, will lead the new directorate at the Greater Manchester council, which serves two of the most deprived wards in England, from 1 April.
The announcement came just six weeks after draft statutory guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families on the role of directors of children’s services warned against appointing joint directors “without very strong justification”.
In October, the Improvement and Development Agency published a report suggesting that the practice could cut bureaucracy and create a more family-centred approach.
However, a DCSF spokesperson subsequently urged councils with joint directors to ensure they maintain a necessary focus on the well-being of children.
Value for money
Oldham Council said its new “slimmed-down” structure would deliver better value for money, while chief executive Charlie Parker added that it would be more focused towards meeting the needs of the citizens in the town.
The 2008 joint strategic needs assessment for Oldham found there were significant gaps in life expectancy between the poorest and most affluent wards.
The assessment of the local population’s needs by health and social care commissioners highlighted other social problems, such as domestic violence – a “significant” issue – and widespread bullying in schools.