Spending on serious case reviews and child death overviews will more than double over the next year, according to council budget data.
The Department for Education summary of data across England for 2011-12 shows a 141% increase in spending on child death reviews compared with the last financial year.
The new figures come amidst widespread concern over the cost of serious case reviews (SCRs) to councils.
Ian Rush, independent chair of Manchester’s Local Safeguarding Board, said councils had historically struggled to set budgets for serious case reviews because they never knew how many they might be dealing with from year to year.
“Some councils might be overly cautious and set aside a large budget but with the intention of using that money elsewhere if the need does not arise,” he said.
“The figure also includes child death reviews. This is a hidden, ongoing expenditure to councils and the government grant for it was recently halved. I imagine that might be having an effect on this figure as well.”
However, he said there was a feeling among local safeguarding children boards that the SCR process had to be streamlined to save money.
“The Munro Review has proposed a new and better type of serious case review but there is no word yet as to if it will have any impact on costs,” Rush said. “The learning from the pilots in this area has been that they take the same time and cost about the same.”
He said, because two independent people were required to be involved in children’s SCRs, the costs increased dramatically, particularly since the legal timeframes on completing SCRs prevented normal tendering processes being used.
Special reports on children’s services spending
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