Andrew Cozens: Laming’s safeguarding unit must not add burdens

The new National Safeguarding Delivery Unit must help improve central government leadership on child protection rather than impose new burdens on councils.

That was the message from Andrew Cozens, strategic adviser for children, adults and health services at the Improvement and Development Agency, after the government accepted Lord Laming’s recommendation to set up a unit to drive improvements in safeguarding.

In a letter responding to Laming’s child protection review last week, children’s secretary Ed Balls said the unit would consist of officials from across government departments, local agencies and the voluntary sector. It would develop child protection priorities and targets and “support and challenge” councils to deliver on them.

Cozens said: “The unit is a welcome development to address what Laming identified as the lack of very senior expertise to back up the cross-government political working arrangements.

No to ‘micro-management’

“Most of Lord Laming’s recommendations are addressed to government and need strong leadership to deliver. I hope the focus will be on clearing government and national obstacles to progress and not further micro-management of local government.”

“It does need to be well informed by professional and political perspectives from the sharp-end,” he added.

Roger Singlton, chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, has been appointed as the government’s first chief adviser on the safety of children and will help ministers set up the unit.

Singleton to report annually

He will also report annually to parliament on progress against Laming’s recommendations and on safeguarding more generally.

In his report, Laming recommended that the unit be set up for an initial three years and report to the Cabinet sub-committee on families, children and young people every three months.

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