New local area agreements may be bad for social care

Children’s social care could be marginalised across England under a new performance system for localities which will come into force next year, directors have warned.

At last week’s Association of Directors of Children’s Services conference, members raised concerns with Department for Children, Schools and Families officials that targets on safeguarding and other children’s social care issues could be squeezed out of new local area agreements (LAAs), meaning the sector would be denied much-needed resources.

Under the LAA plans, ministers will produce a set of 200 local government targets, 53 of which will be included in each locality’s LAA.

The new LAAs will give local authorities and local partners, such as primary care trusts, funding freedoms to collectively pursue outcomes across the full range of local services.

However, children’s social care is not one of the 18 statutory attainment targets set by the DCSF that must be included in the LAAs.

Carol White, Calderdale Council children’s services director, said: “We may have difficulty locally staking a claim for further children’s services targets [beyond the 18]. It may be perceived by other services that we are trying to get a disproportionate share.”

She called for guidance on how many of the 35 additional indicators should cover children’s services, “to ensure safeguarding gets a proper look-in”.

The government is due to publish the set of 200 indicators this autumn and then develop guidance on the new LAAs, which will be in place by next June.

Related information:

Essential information on children’s services

See The Child Minder for more on Children’s services issue

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 Mithran Samuel


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