The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has attacked the government’s failure to pledge increased resources for child safeguarding in ministers’ response today to Lord Laming’s review.
In his report, published in March, Laming called on government departments to ensure staffing and training budgets for child protection services were “protected” and that early intervention and preventive services were adequately resourced.
Onus on children’s trusts
However, in its response to Laming, published today, the Department for Children, Schools and Families placed the onus for funding firmly on local children’s trusts, which, it said, should base financing decisions on analyses of local need.
It also said the new National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, which will oversee safeguarding services across England, would examine the scope for disseminating comparative information to local agencies on safeguarding spending across the country.
Responding to the DCSF, ADCS president Kim Bromley-Derry said it was “disappointing” that Laming’s recommendations had not resulted in an increase in basic funding for safeguarding.
He added: “At a time when the public sector is under pressure to make savings, the action plan offers no protection for child protection budgets from efficiency savings or other budget reductions. We need a sustained commitment to proper resourcing over five or 10 years and continued prioritisation by central government to have a real impact on our ability to keep children safe.”
Balls: Funding is ‘work in progress’
When questioned on whether budgets would be ring-fenced as the government published its plan today, children’s secretary Ed Balls said the DSCF was in discussions with central and local government “to make sure resources for children’s services get through to the frontline.” He added that this was “work in progress”.
Bromley-Derry, director of children’s services at Newham Council, east London, also said he was disappointed that the plan contained “little action” to improve child protection within the NHS.
Welcome for extra £58m
He welcomed the extra £58m pledged by the DCSF for the development and training of children’s social workers and the promise to reform the Integrated Children’s System – the electronic case management system for children’s social care. But he said these initiativies would take time to bear fruit.