Government gives councils £100m in surprise boost for child protection

An extra £100m will be handed to councils next year to help
boost their child protection work, the government announced last

The surprise announcement, made alongside next year’s settlement
for councils, comes despite earlier claims by children’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 of the Victoria Climbi’ Report 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

An extra £100m is also being made available for one year only
for adult services to enable councils to build up community-based
social services and promote older people’s independence. This will
be on top of the £100m 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
funds but said they had to be set against the backdrop of tough
targets for cutting delayed discharges and improving children’s

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

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 schools.

Ann Windiate, co-chairperson of the ADSS 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 for other council services.

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

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