Bid to slash costs of teams discarded

The Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service has dropped plans to slash the budgets of high-cost teams.

The plan to reduce costs to that of the lowest cost teams, outlined in last December’s Organising for Quality paper, was opposed by staff who claimed spending in different geographical areas could not be reasonably compared.

Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said high-cost teams would continue to be set tough efficiency targets but the proposal – known as performance budgeting – would not be pursued, adding: “We won’t get into a massive piece of work comparing different parts of the country.”

Alison Paddle, chair of guardians’ body Nagalro, said: “Staff will welcome the fact that has been stopped.” Douglas also said that Cafcass would save £1m from replacing its 10 regional offices with three business centres and through voluntary redundancies among senior managers, more than the £560,000 envisaged in Organising for Quality.

Paddle called for the service to use the budget increase for 2007-8 announced last week to fund increased fees for self-employed practitioners, whose rates were frozen in 2006-7, unlike employed staff’s salaries.

Douglas said that though some of the 5.9 per cent increase would go into pay, he could not confirm what would happen to the self-employed.

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