The government will publish a “considerably” reduced version of the safeguarding document Working Together, following a consultation to be launched in the next two weeks, it has been revealed.
Speaking at Community Care Live yesterday, children’s minister Tim Loughton admitted that revising the 300-page document in an effort to reduce bureaucracy in children’s services – as recommended by the Munro review – had taken longer than expected.
“It has taken longer than I anticipated to get to something I’m comfortable with,” Loughton said.
Loughton said the delayed consultation would be launched “in the next two weeks”. He also confirmed that an “unadulterated” version of Professor Eileen Munro’s progress report, which has also been delayed, would be published in “the next week or so”.
In March, Community Care revealed concerns that ministers were planning to drastically cull Working Together, with some sources claiming the document had been reduced to as little as 10 pages, at the request of education secretary Michael Gove.
The news prompted a mixed reaction in the sector, with some social workers calling for drastic revisions and others warning vital guidance could be lost.
“Working Together needs to be considerably shrunk and it will be,” Loughton told delegates. “Some people may jump up and down saying they want a huge rule book but I think most social workers will say ‘good, now we can get on with being social workers’.”
He added: “There will be a consultation soon and we have been working with a lot of experts, but let’s be clear what’s behind all this.
“We have this huge safeguarding manual and responses to child tragedies have been knee-jerk and to simply add more pages to Working Together. It has grown and grown. In what has become a compliance culture, it makes your job harder.”