‘Children’s service reforms need more money’ – Commons committee

MPs have expressed strong doubts about the government’s
claim that reforms contained in Every Child Matters can be achieved
without extra funding.

The Select Committee on Education and Skills has called on the
government to consider allocating additional dedicated resources to
enable the policies to be implemented consistently.

The MPs were impressed by the “commitment, dedication and
enthusiasm” of those responsible for delivering the changes
at the front end, but say that more money is needed to move to more
effective preventive services. This was unlikely to be generated
through efficiency savings made by services working in a more
joined up way, as the government has argued. They go on to ask
ministers to produce evidence of how such savings can be achieved
in practice.

Specific areas of policy highlighted by the committee as having
a ‘strong case’ for getting additional funds included
workforce development and the setting up and maintenance of
Children’s Trusts. The MPs added that they are ‘not
convinced’ that Every Child Matters-related workforce
development for staff in some sectors, such as the health service,
would be made as high a priority as the government anticipates.

The plans for a network of children’s databases are also
criticised. The committee states that it has ‘significant
reservations’ about whether the policy represents the best
use of resources and says that there is no conclusive evidence to
show that such databases are the best way to improve outcomes for
children. Further concerns about the databases’ security,
confidentiality and access arrangements are also raised.

The MPs go on to warn that the failure to place a statutory duty
on GPs and schools to collaborate in children’s trust
arrangements could lead to them choosing not to participate and
undermine the aims contained in Every Child Matters.

‘It is unlikely that the current incentives and penalties
in the system will be adequate to make reluctant schools, in
particular, co-operate. The Government needs to clarify what
additional incentives will be introduced into the system to address
this issue,’ they conclude.

Select Committee on Education and Skills ninth report from:

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