Sixty Second Interview

Sixty Second Interview with Andrew Webb

By Amy Taylor

What are the main issues you hope to raise in your new role as ADSS children’s committee chair?

The Children Act and Every Child Matters present the opportunity of a lifetime to bring services into a coherent whole  and we have got to make the most of it. We need to focus on outcomes and build on the evidence of effective practice. I want to develop and promote processes and services which actually reduce inequality in all the five outcome areas.

Will the education white paper make it difficult to provide adequate services for the most disadvantaged children?

It’s a mixed bag. Some of the proposals that are about support to individual children and parents and the education of looked-after children will make a positive impact. I can’t see how the proposals on choice and competition will make the new role of director of children’s services any easier. Directors of children’s services have to oversee the strategic development of all services and I think this will be made more difficult by the white paper.

There’s a lot of funding pressures on children’s services, eg. paying for independent fostering places. Do children’s services need more money or do they have to become more efficient with the money they have?

Last year more than 70 per cent of social services children’s services overspent. Local Education Authorities have identified a whole range of pressures for now and the future and when you combine the two it’s hard to see how we can cope just with the improved efficiencies that we are all hoping for. When Margaret Hodge launched the green paper she was very clear  about the fact that we all had to do more with the money that we had already but it’s impossible to move through a transition phase without spending more money because we have to run two types of service. The ADSS and ADECS have contributed a pressure paper to the DfES identifying £600 million of financial pressures for next year (06-07). These come from areas including looked-after children, workforce development and minimum fostering allowances. All of these are going to cost more money.

A teenager recently got an Asbo preventing him from attending school. What are your views on Asbos and the government’s youth justice agenda? Are they working against Every Child Matters?

Antisocial behaviour is a problem for communities and if we don’t prevent children from being antisocial we don’t do them any favours as individuals. You can’t separate developing respectful behaviour from Every Child Matters, it’s a part of it.  There are strong links between antisocial behaviour and criminal behaviour we have a duty to prevent young people developing a pattern of offending. We need more parenting support for all parents rather than just concentrating on the small number of parents who are antisocial themselves , or for whom parenting support is seen as a punitive response. 

What are your views on the impact of section 9 on asylum seeking children?

I’m opposed to any action that has the consequence of separating children from their families for no apparent child-related reason.

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