Social services chiefs say Children Act funding is ‘too little too late’

The children’s minister has dashed any remaining hopes of
significant funding to implement the Children Act 2004.

But Margaret Hodge told local authority figures at a conference
last week, organised by the Local Government Association, that
funding was not a barrier to the reforms.

“A lot of this is about changing the way we work and there are huge
opportunities for using our money smarter,” she said.

In guidance on how to implement the act last week, the Department
for Education and Skills announced just £22.5m in 2006-7 and
£63m in 2007-8 for councils to make the changes.

The news, which coincided with the chancellor’s pre-budget report,
will add to fears that the act could meet the same fate as the
Children Act 1989, widely regarded as a sound piece of legislation
that did not fulfil its potential due to lack of funding (news,
page 8, 18 November).

The LGA, in its guide to the legislation also published last week,
warned that the new act would result in an “additional burden for
local authorities”.

Chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services children’s
committee John Coughlan said that what money there was would also
come too late because most councils would have to have a children’s
services director in place by 2006.

Meanwhile, the Improvement and Development Agency has said that
guidance on the role and responsibilities of the lead member for
children’s services would need to be looked at again.

The national adviser on social care and children’s services at the
IDeA, Jacky Tiotto, said the measure contained in draft guidance
released last month to allow councillors to delegate might conflict
with the Local Government Act 2000.

The document says that the lead member for children’s services can
“delegate the operational aspects of functions to other members of
the executive or other members provided he or she maintains
effective overview”.

The lead member role was created in the Children Act 2004 to
increase councillors’ accountability.

  • Every Child Matters: Change for Children is available from and LGA lead member guidance is at

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.