The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service says it has cleared its backlog of public law cases in London two months after instituting a programme to turn round the beleaguered region.
However, chief executive Anthony Douglas said the success reflected the commitment of practitioners and managers, rather than any changes in working practices brought in by the programme, of which he has taken personal charge.
Douglas said the only public law cases left unallocated in the region now are new referrals – approximately 20 at any given time. At the end of February, there were 114 unallocated public law cases, representing 5.2 per cent of such cases in the region, compared with a national unallocated average of 2.7 per cent.
This, alongside a projected regional overspend of almost £1.8 million, prompted Douglas to institute a London change programme
He said the measures in the change programme, including an extension of duty systems, would still be required to keep backlogs down over the long-term, given a freezing of its budget since 2004-5.
Douglas also warned that Cafcass would struggle to give staff a significant pay rise this year, given its budgetary situation and a Treasury target of rises of around 2 per cent for public bodies.
Staff unions Napo and Unison have claimed five per cent and pay parity for practitioners paid less than their counterparts in Wales.