Cash boost for child protection work

An extra £100 million will be handed to councils next year
to help boost their child protection work, the government
announced, writes Sally Gillen and Derren

The surprise announcement, made alongside next year’s
settlement for councils, comes despite earlier claims by children
and young people’s minister Margaret Hodge that no new money
would be needed to implement the children’s green paper.

Local authorities will use the cash to respond to the
recommendations in Lord Laming’s inquiry report into the
death of Victoria Climbie and to establish local safeguarding
children boards.

The main local government settlement also includes enhanced
ring-fenced grants for key children’s services including
adoption support, fostering, child and adolescent mental health
services, and children’s trusts. However, the 16 councils
with three-star social services departments will receive their
grants free from ring-fencing.

An extra £100 million is also being made available for one
year only to adult services to enable councils to build up the
stock of community based social services and promote older
people’s independence. This will be on top of the £100
million allocated for delayed discharges for 2004-5. Adult mental
health services, however, will receive no extra funding.

The Association of Directors of Social Services welcomed the
extra resources, but said they had to be set against the backdrop
of increased performance expectations on reducing delayed
discharges and implementing Laming’s recommendations.

As a result of the government’s commitment to cutting
ring-fencing to below 10 per cent of total funding by 2005, several
formerly ring-fenced social services grants are no longer
protected, including the carers’ grant, the Supporting People
administration grant, the homelessness grant, and grants relating
to the training and development of social care staff.

While the Local Government Association has welcomed the
commitment to reduce ring-fencing, it has warned that this could be
undermined if councils are then forced to poach money from these
and other services as a result of backdoor ring-fencing for
education services.

It warned that 13 local authorities would have to transfer their
entire grant increase to schools next year, leaving “not a
penny increase for other services”. A further 18 councils
would have “practically no room for manoeuvre” once
they had delivered the government’s pupil guarantee to

Ann Windiate, co-chairperson of the Association of
Director’s of Social Services resources committee, said that
while some of the formerly ring-fenced grants might be incorporated
into mainstream budgets, this money was now vulnerable to being
used to fund other council services.

“We support rationalisation of funding streams, but we
remain slightly cautious that some grants could become soft
targets,” she said.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.