Stable relationships are key to tackling family breakdown, says Ed Balls
The government is drawing up new plans to tackle family breakdown that will promote any stable relationship, not just the superiority of marriage, the children’s secretary, Ed Balls, reveals .
His department is due to publish a green paper on the family early in the new year, turning the issue of the promotion of families, parenting and marriage into a potential electoral battleground.
Cuts warning over family courts
A senior judge warned yesterday that family courts are near “breaking point” and are being undermined by heavy budget cuts. The courts already face lengthy delays, a scarcity of expert witnesses and strains caused by increased media access – pressures that could jeopardise child welfare, Mr Justice Coleridge said.
“We don’t need anything further done to increase the fragility of the family justice system, which is already near breaking point,” said the High Court judge. The warning came as he chaired the annual conference of the Family Bar Law Association (FBLA) yesterday. “We’ve just been told that our budget has been cut by 8.5 per cent in real terms; there will be cuts across the country.”
Ofsted ‘destroyed Baby P files’
AN insider has accused Ofsted, the children’s inspectorate, of destroying “smoking gun” documents that could expose an attempted cover-up in the Baby P childcare scandal.
The Ofsted whistleblower alleges the watchdog deleted draft reports from its computers that gave a highly favourable verdict on Haringey, the London council whose failings contributed to Baby P’s death.
Paedophiles continued as social workers because of watchdog failings
Hundreds of social services staff accused of disciplinary breaches, including paedophile offences, were left free to look after vulnerable people while decisions about whether they should be suspended or struck off were delayed.
Hearings into their cases were put off for months, and in some cases years, so that the regulator could delay paying the costs, according to a report for ministers. Some of the most serious cases were abandoned with “little or no” investigation, by staff who felt under pressure to shelve cases regardless of the dangers to the public.