Amid concerns from social work academics that government proposals to allow the outsourcing of children’s services will see child protection services privatised, children and families minister Edward Timpson has said claims of ‘wholescale’ privatisation are a misrepresentation of the government’s ambitions. Timpson addressed the issue during a keynote speech at Community Care Live 2014. Listen to the minister’s comments below.
“Now this isn’t, as you may have read over the weekend, about privatisation. At the moment local authorities are accountable for statutory children’s social work and I want to be clear that the government has absolutely no plans to change this, but we are asking whether high quality services could be delivered by a wider range of organisations.
“We’re not talking about turning children’s services over wholescale to large companies with no expertise in this area, that is very much a misrepresentation of our ambition. Councils already have all sorts of other statutory responsibilities that they don’t provide in-house. They instead draw on the expertise, innovation and capacity of a range of other organisations from the voluntary sector and from small and medium-sized social enterprise, but not so in children’s social work.
“Let’s say for instance that you wanted to set up a small social work practice – a bit like a GP practice – with social workers at the heart of your community. An independent organisation, a charity or a mutual to which the council delegated powers. You would be able to shape its approach and the ethos to provide the outstanding services that you entered the profession to deliver but the law [as it currently stands] says you can’t do it…That law means that children’s social workers have been denied the freedoms that other professionals have enjoyed for decades…we want these freedoms available in children’s social care as well.”