Clarke addresses fears that children’s social services will slip down agenda

Education secretary Charles Clarke reassured social services
officers and councillors that children’s social services would not
lose out to education, financially or otherwise.

Clarke told delegates he was aware of concerns about the power of
the school lobby but was “absolutely determined” that children’s
social services budgets would not be affected by the move of
children’s social services to the Department for Education and

He also pointed out that social services had not been immune to
competition for resources when based in the Department of Health:
“Hospital waiting lists have been just as important a target to
politicians as school standards.”

Clarke said he hoped the Queen’s Speech in November would give a
commitment to a “short bill to deal with some of the headline
issues” in the Every Child Matters green paper in the next
parliamentary session, including accountability arrangements and
information sharing.

He acknowledged the difficulties around improving information
sharing and promised to remove barriers, insisting that
“significant changes” must be made.

“I have seen examples where failure to share information [in child
protection work] has been fatal.”

Clarke said it would be “foolish” to take a “one-size-fits-all”
approach in relation to children’s trusts, acknowledging that
different areas would have different needs.

He said education and children’s social services would form the
core relationship of all children’s trusts but, beyond that, how
other services were involved would be determined locally, adding
that being more prescriptive would have been “destructive rather
than constructive”.

However, he said it was important to agree on the principles and
work together. “From my point of view, the faster the better. From
my point of view as consensually as possible.”

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