A lifeline from Surrey?

So Surrey Council is merging its adults’ and children’s departments to create a more family-centred service. Heard it all before? Well it was of course Lord Seebohm’s rationale nearly 40 years ago for the creation of social services departments, the lumbering giants that most local authorities are now so busy dismantling.

Having split the two services five years ago Surrey has noticed, a little belatedly, that they are not so easily insulated from one another. As the chief executive says in our interview with him this week, “both children’s and adults’ services deal with transitions and share several of the same partners”. A few sentimentalists might also say that it has struck a small blow for the unity of social care, just as some were saying that the profession’s leaders had given up on it.

As adults’ and children’s services each go their solitary way, there’s an inevitable risk that social care will lose out to the competing claims of health, housing and education. Surrey may be swimming against the current, but it might even help to keep social care afloat.

See interview

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