£20 million fund to make children’s services work more closely together

Regional improvement scheme announced along with expansion of Partners in Practice programme

working together
Photo: hurca.com/Fotolia

Local authorities will be expected to work together in ‘Regional Improvement Alliances’ under new plans announced by the government.

Children’s minister Robert Goodwill announced that up to £20 million would be spent on two schemes to improve local authority children’s services.

In ‘Regional Improvement Alliances’, neighbouring local authorities would challenge each other on standards, agree local improvement priorities and share best practice, the government said. It will be tested in partnership with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Local Government Association.

The government will also expand the number of local authorities in its Partners In Practice programme to apply to all local authorities with a ‘good’ or better overall Ofsted rating, and ‘good’ or better sub-judgement ratings.

‘Self-improving system’

In a speech at the National Children’s and Adults’ Services Conference today, the minister will say he is committed to building a “self-improving system” that “spots where challenges are emerging, and quickly puts the right support in place”.

He will add that there are “too many” people being let down by “poor quality services”.

“That is why we must take decisive action where performance is not good enough,” Goodwill will say.

“Our interventions programme is yielding real results: 36 local authorities have been lifted out of intervention since 2010 and we are seeing a positive impact from the independent children’s social care trusts that we have set up in Doncaster and Slough,” he will say.

What Works Centre

The topic of local authority partnerships improving services had already been raised at the conference. In her keynote address yesterday, ADCS president Alison Michalska said local authority leaders were looking into models for sector-led improvement.

“A model that not only catches authorities before they fall, but also matches the strengths and areas for development in authorities on an improvement trajectory,” Michalska said.

She added that the sector needed resourcing to build its capacity to work this way.

The government also announced today that the charity Nesta will set up its new What Works Centre, as part of a consortium which includes the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

Other partners are the Alliance for Useful Evidence, a platform for sharing social research and evidence in the UK established by The Big Lottery Fund, the Economic and Social Research Council and Nesta; FutureGov, a company that makes products to improve public services; and consultancy service Traversum.

Plans for the What Works Centre were announced in 2016, and it will lead on sharing evidence and research on best practice across social work.

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7 Responses to £20 million fund to make children’s services work more closely together

  1. Ralph Linton October 12, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    It will lead to innapropriate spending on consultants, agency and management wages. In 10 years we will still be looking at fracured systems and communication as we have been hearing for the past 20 years. Waste of money.

  2. Grace Easie-Edgar October 12, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Really !!
    A What Works Centre ?
    All those social work teams in Outstanding LAs will be sending ideas to a centre who will the roll this out to failing or potential failing services?
    Have I missed something ?

    • londonboy October 13, 2017 at 9:14 am #

      Is this the What Works Centre as set out in the Children in Social Work Act? If so anything that goes here needs to be ‘gold standard’ – practice based and not a product or a service offered by x company or whatever. What is proposed seems a bit underwhelming for something with statutory force to say the least.
      It will end in copious tears if policymakers do not get this right and cannot resist their compulsion to ‘marketise’ everything – no-one trusts them around this and there are some dodgy issues legally in terms of procurement I think.

  3. Katie Politico October 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Consultancies owned by Tories – another way of feeding their money addiction. Regardless it will never work without adequate resources, including a decrease in case numbers. LA’s are too bureaucratic. They are not focussed on improving the lives of families but on the needs of service managers to meet spurious central government targets that don’t, for example, measure good outcomes or the achievements of social workers. There’s also always the assumption that social workers are never good enough, as though a profit -centred capitalist government knows what’s best. Central government needs to stop interfering and to properly fund LAs. £20 million to be spent on consultation and sharing best practice when we already know what’s wrong. The money could and should be spent on attracting and retaining more social workers, but that isn’t profitable for the profiteers. Set against the £billions that have been cut from LAs, £20 million is an insult that doesn’t address the real issues. Service managers and not social workers should be the ones under scrutiny since in my experience they are often personality-disordered bullies who expect the impossible.

  4. Lisa Green October 12, 2017 at 11:45 pm #

    Just fund councils with ring fenced money to have enough social workers and managers! It’s not rocket science

  5. LongtimeSW October 13, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    . . . . . . . . and this shambles of a Govt. keep feeding thier vulture mates the profits off the backs of public service workers using MY taxes. Is the £20 million ‘new money’ or from so-called ‘savings’ (i.e. cuts)?

    • Sandra October 14, 2017 at 9:57 pm #

      I can’t wait for retirement! Sick to death of the Tories. When are they going to start talking to operational staff – we have all the ideas! All that will happen is that Directors will role over and just take all this. Why can’t they stand up and be a voice for us all!