ICS: £15m to help councils scrap systems and start again

Councils whose integrated children’s systems are unworkable are to be funded by the government to scrap them and start again.

Children’s minister Delyth Morgan has ring-fenced £15m for local authorities to take remedial action if their ICS model is failing.

She said: “What local authorities need is help and additional resources so that they can secure the newer IT solutions that they’re seeking for their social workers. It’s a huge job.”

In its implementation plan for the Social Work Task Force recommendations, the government said it would reduce national prescription for ICS and support local authorities in developing their own systems.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls said: “This is extra money to smooth that taskforce recommendation. It is settled money for the next financial year from our department.”

Robert Fitzgerald, children’s services product manager at ICS provider OLM Systems, said the government’s centralised approach to ICS had been disastrous.

“The government thought IT was going to solve the problem, but the way they went about it, it actually became the problem,” he said. “What councils have always needed to do is determine their needs, which is down to the people and the processes they go through. Every authority does things in different ways and the prescriptive process simply hindered innovation.”

Fitzgerald said he would recommend local authorities take this opportunity to scrap inefficient older systems and take on new ones more suited to their needs.

Sir Roger Singleton, the government’s chief adviser on child safety, agreed that a more local approach was best.

“It’s a changing and, in my view, gradually improving scene the more involved frontline staff get with it,” he said.

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