The government has abandoned plans to give the education secretary the power to remove local authorities from the adoption recruitment process without parliamentary approval.
The controversial proposal, which caused anger when it was announced earlier this year, would have seen responsibility for adopter recruitment and assessment transferred to the voluntary sector.
Local authority social workers would only have been involved in the later stages of adoption, such as matching children with families and providing post-adoption support.
The plans proved deeply unpopular with social workers and council bosses. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services said directors have always “strongly opposed” it, while the Local Government Association (LGA) warned the government risks creating a “confusing and disjointed” system and the British Association of Social Workers described it as “madness”.
Many voluntary agencies also expressed concern about the plans, with Barnardo’s speaking out in support of statutory services.
The government has now compromised, however, adding an amendment to the children’s bill, which was agreed in the Lords last night. It means the secretary of state would now need the approval of both houses of Parliament to strip a council of its adoption duties.
The news was a triumph for councils, with the LGA hailing it a ‘common sense amendment’.
Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We are pleased that government has listened to councils and taken on board our concerns about the implications of reducing the role of local authorities in recruiting adopters.
“This common sense amendment put forward by the Lords will guard against government acting disproportionately in a way which would risk making the adoption system worse for the mums, dads and vulnerable children we are all looking to help.