Cafcass wins budget increase for 2007-8

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service is to receive its first budget increase since 2004-5 in the coming financial year, it announced yesterday.

Cafcass will receive a 5.9 per cent increase on its base budget for 2007-8.

The cash equivalent – £5.9m – was included in its budget for 2006-7 as a one-off increase, but the Department for Education and Skills has agreed to continue it.

Cafcass also announced it is taking forward many of the proposals in its reform paper Organising for Quality, which called for increased investment in practice and supervision through efficiency savings.

Proposals backed include a new national practice model, which would be developed by April 2008 and define how Cafcass will work, and audits of practice quality to improve standards.

It will also, as planned, replace its 10 regional offices with three business centres by September 2008, with the loss of a number of senior management posts.

Organising for Quality envisaged saving more than £500,000 a year from senior management jobs to invest in frontline practice.

However, one of the most controversial proposals – for higher-cost teams to have their budgets cut to drive efficiency savings – appears to have been dropped.

Union Napo and guardians’ professional body Nagalro opposed the move, saying unit costs were not a reliable guide to efficiency because of differences between areas.

Cafcass said resources would continue to be allocated to local teams as now.

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