Social care sector has high hopes for new children’s minister Hughes

Beverley Hughes has been broadly welcomed as the new children’s
minister but has been warned she must listen to the social care

Hughes replaces Margaret Hodge, who has become minister for

Family Rights Group chief executive Cathy Ashley said Hughes
should think again about the “unworkable” children’s database and
use the money on supporting families to help prevent so many
children going into care.

Voice for the Child in Care chief executive John Kemmis said: “I
hope she will listen to what young people in the care system and
who are locked up have to say and I hope she will listen to the
voluntary sector. We look forward to working with her.”

Hughes worked as a probation officer in Merseyside in the 1970s
before becoming a lecturer at Manchester University’s department of
social work and social policy where her research interests included
child sexual abuse and adoption and fostering.

Both children’s charity NCH and youth homelessness charity
Centrepoint urged the minister to ensure progress was made on the
youth green paper, which was delayed shortly before the

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said
he was concerned that the minister for immigration, when proposals
resulting in the children of failed asylum seekers being taken into
care were announced, should now be minister for children.

President of the Association of Directors of Social Services
Tony Hunter said that Hughes’s appointment could lead to some
changes in this area: “We are looking forward to working with her
on child focussed issues around the five outcomes of the Children
Act which may place some of the asylum and immigration issues in a
better child focused context,” he said.

The reshuffle saw former community care minister Stephen Ladyman
moved to become a minister in the Department for Transport to the
dismay of many in the social care sector. Liam Byrne is set to
replace him.
Former City high-flier Byrne, 34, only became an MP last year after
a byelection. His website lists his special interest as being
“social policy”.

John Dixon, co-chair of the ADSS disability committee, and
director of social services at West Sussex, said that he was sorry
to see Ladyman go. “He has been a great supporter of social care
with lots of energy,” he said.

Peter Beresford, chair of service user-led organisation Shaping
our Lives, said that it seemed that anybody given the brief of
social care who performed well was rapidly moved away from the
sector, as illustrated by Ladyman and his predecessor Jacqui

Dixon said that Patricia Hewitt’s appointment as secretary of
state for health, replacing John Reid, was a positive move. “I
think she will be more switched on in terms of social care,” he

The creation of a second cabinet minister for local government
was also highly welcomed.

The Local Government Association said that the appointment of
David Miliband to the new post of minister for communities and
local government was a “historic opportunity” to channel more power
to the public through local government.

Selected ministerial changes at a glance

IN: Minister for community care Liam
; Minister for disabled people, Anne
; Work and Pensions secretary, David
; health secretary, Patricia
; minister for communities and local government,
David Miliband; minister for schools,
Jacqui Smith; under secretary of state for
schools, Andrew Adonis. At the Department of
Health (as yet unconfirmed portfolios): Minister, Jane
; minister, Lord Warner;
parliamentary secretary, Caroline Flint.

Stephen Ladyman,
was community care minister, now transport minister;
Margaret Hodge, was minister for children, now
minister for work; Maria Eagle, was minister for
disabled people, now under secretary of state for children;
Nick Raynsford, was minister for local government,
now no longer a minister.

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