Letters to Community Care 29 April 2010

letter of the week ➔Stephen Jack, chairman of the trustees, Independent Living Fund am not sure where Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson (letters, 15 April,...

I am not sure where Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson (letters, 15 April) sought up-to-date evidence about the contribution of the Independent Living Fund.

It certainly is not from the ILF itself and does not reflect the experience of most of our 21,000 users, who may feel somewhat threatened by their letter. All of the 68 recommendations in the writers’ 2007 independent report on the ILF have been considered. Those concerned with process improvement have been substantially implemented, those relating to convergence are well underway, and only those about expansion of activity and client group remain for future consideration.

Our extensive consultation programme provided reports from users to government on the Big Care Debate and the largest collective response to the Right to Control trailblazers consultation. Planned consultation events continue across the UK throughout 2010. This degree of engagement would be the envy of many public bodies.

Of course the ILF needs to be integrated into personal budgets. We are playing a central role with Office for Disability Issues in the design and operation of the Right to Control trailblazers and these will help determine how this is best done. The UK-wide ILF has advantages that would be complex and expensive to replicate. We are highly efficient with administration at £10m accounting for less than 3% of the grants we pay out.

I believe that our 214 local authority partners appreciate that getting their share of £10m is hardly going to allow them to do the ILF’s work. Ironically, Melanie and Bob point out exactly the benefits that ILF provides: existing allocations to users are protected, funding is ringfenced and portable and the approach is consistent. But these cannot happen without organisation and management, which points to all partners supporting reform.

Stephen Jack, chairman of the trustees, Independent Living Fund

Child protection is about the basics

Of course the NSPCC’s Wes Cuell is right, the lessons of serious case reviews (and their predecessors) since 1973 have not been learned (news, 15 April).

Now in 2010 the big news from Ofsted is that if you start late you are more likely to finish late, as if it really matters.

We have known for at least three decades that things go badly wrong in children’s lives when:

● We neglect neglect.

● We fail to face up to the reality of sexual abuse.

● Caseloads are too big.

● We focus on their parents’ problems to the exclusion of theirs.

● We don’t follow our own procedures.

● Our recording is rubbish – particularly our chronologies.

● We don’t talk to each other before things go wrong.

● We leave it until the evening before a bank holiday to share our concerns.

Perhaps if we stopped spending over £50,000 on each SCR (reinventing the wheel and trying to curry favour with Ofsted) and directed our resources towards getting these basics right we might start to make our children safer.

Paul Fallon, consultant and independent safeguarding board chair

Social work should not spin tragedy

Defence is worthy when genuine, but not as a bought-in commodity in the form of a media specialist such as Terry Brownbill (“Social workers didn’t kill Khyra, the two in the dock did”, 1 April, https://www.communitycare.co.uk/114192).

If “high-profile issues” means the ruinous loss of life then we need to scrutinise the use of specialist media management.

I accept there is a drastic need for more well trained social workers and an effective legal structure to help them.

There is a need for top quality degree courses for social work qualification and continuing professional development for social workers.

I would prefer that local authorities put their money into this than costly media savvy specialists.

Dr Peter McParlin, consultant child psychologist

Headline glowing with nude health

Given that the headline on your article about health checks for social services departments (“Health and efficiency”, 8 April, https://www.communitycare.co.uk/114221) is also the title of the magazine dedicated to naturists can we expect social services departments to be as transparent?

Sue Bott, director, National Council for Independent Living

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