Role of local safeguarding children boards ‘confused’ amid funding shortfall

Report commissioned by Local Government Association shows greater clarity is needed around the role of safeguarding boards

Photo: Flickr/Nadia Hatoum

The role of Local Safeguarding Children Boards has become confused due to falling funding, according to a review commissioned by the Local Government Association.

The study, published this week, surveyed 89 chairs pf Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) in England and found that “widespread uncertainty” around resources was seen to have an impact on effectiveness.

Dysfunctional Ofsted

Funding burdens can fall disproportionately on councils as it is not always shared equally across local partners, the study found.

Despite significant progress to build a strong approach to joint working, work is often hampered by a dysfunctional Ofsted regime, the study found.

So, in a joint statement, the Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Children’s Services and Solace said “greater clarity” is needed around the expectations of safeguarding boards.

“With councils often paying the vast majority of LSCB costs despite clear government guidance that partners should contribute fairly, it is clear that society and the government’s expectations of LSCBs will remain hard to fulfil,” it stated.

Bureaucratic serious case reviews

The report also found serious case reviews can be too bureaucratic and expensive, while the resources required to complete them are disproportionate to their efficacy in improving practice.

The majority of safeguarding board chairs who responded to the survey “believed it is time either for a thorough review of the process or of some of its constituent parts,” the report found.

David N Jones, chair of the Association of LSCB chairs, said boards need a “clear and focused mandate and sufficient resources to do the job” if they are to continue contributing to the safety of children and young people across England.

He added: “This extensive review provides a helpful overview of the current position of LSCBs and the challenges in safeguarding children arrangements across England.

“We recognise the picture revealed in the survey and call all with responsibility for safeguarding children and young people to receive and respond to the key messages.”

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