Paul Ennals, the chief executive of the National
Children’s Bureau, is concerned that the government is losing
its way in its reforms of children’s services.
Ennals expressed fears that the government is in danger of
“snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” because of its
obsession with quick-fix policies, lack of boldness in dealing with
problems and increased reluctance to listen to professionals.
He said that while much of what the government has done is
positive, he is concerned services in the future could be shaped by
government departmental structures and not around the needs of
children and families.
An example of this is the difficulty that many organisations are
having in implementing joined-up working practices at local
“The reality is that…unless Tony Blair or Gordon Brown
gives it personal backing it doesn’t happen,” Ennals
He criticised the government for only considering initiatives
“that will deliver an outcome within 12 months”, and added that the
Antisocial Behaviour Bill breached human rights legislation in its
proposed penalties for young offenders.
Ennals said the government was not listening to social services
departments and care professionals because of a lack of trust. Over
the past six months, this lack of trust had manifested itself as a
“reigning back” of its willingness to consult with the sector.