Exclusive: Social services combine with other departments

More than two fifths of all social services departments in
England are now combined with other services, a Community
survey has revealed, writes Clare

Of those departments with a wider remit, half have
responsibility for social services and housing, a third have
responsibility for social services and health, and a handful have
responsibility for social services, housing and health.

More unusual combinations include Havering’s new community
services department in east London, which covers leisure and
culture, cctv, emergency planning, revenue and benefits, and social
services; East Riding of Yorkshire’s department of social services,
housing, and public protection; and Blackpool’s department of
housing, environmental and social services.

Only half of the individuals with lead responsibility for social
services have retained the traditional title of director of social
services, while a further fifth are directors of social services
and at least one other service.

Almost 30 per cent of former social services director posts have
now been extended to include more of an overview role and been
given new titles, including strategic, executive, or corporate
director. Three directors now also head a local primary care

Eight of England’s 150 upper tier local authorities have
scrapped their social services departments altogether, and replaced
them with departments for adult social services and departments for
children’s social services.

From next year, Essex council will join Brighton and Hove,
Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, Peterborough,
Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, and Wiltshire councils in
splitting their services, and Rochdale council is planning a
similar move.

Of the eight that have already made the split, at least three
have combined their adult services with housing and others have
moved their adult services closer to health. Seven have combined
their children’s services with education to create new children and
schools departments, the majority of which are led by the former
directors of education.

Bury council, by contrast, has recently removed education from
its personal and community services department and appointed a
director of social services, health and housing and a director of
education after it was felt the job was too much for one

Plans to change posts to more strategic and less hands-on roles
have prompted some former directors’ departures, as have plans to
split departments.

But Jeni Bremner, programme manager for education and social
policy at the Local Government Association, said the findings
proved that local authorities were reacting to local agendas.

“What this demonstrates is that local government is thinking
flexibly about the provision of services, and acknowledging the
wider agenda,” she said.

Bremner added that it was unclear whether the move towards
combining children’s social services and education services
amounted to a step towards the new children’s trusts mentioned in
the spending review as it was still unclear how the new trusts
would work.

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