Surge in support for petition against social care duty ‘exemption’ plans

Petition against controversial ‘innovation’ measures in Children and Social Work Bill receives more than 90,000 signatures in past two days

Picture: Patryk Kosmider/fotolia

More than 90,000 people have lent their support to a social worker’s petition opposing controversial measures included in the Children and Social Work Bill.

Carolyne Willow, co-founder of the children’s rights group Article 39, launched the petition against clauses in the bill that hand the government the power to exempt councils from statutory duties under children’s social care law for up to six years.

The government claims the exemptions will promote ‘innovation’ by allowing councils to trial new ways of working in children’s services. A handful of councils have already expressed interest in using the powers to review the way independent reviewing officers are used and approval arrangements for kinship carers.

But opponents, including a coalition set up by Article 39 that is backed by more than 30 organisations, argue that the plans threaten a legal safety net for children and families that has been carefully built up over the past 80 years.

The legislation will face its next parliamentary hurdle when the House of Lords debates amendments to the clauses, including one tabled by Labour peers for the exemption powers to be scrapped entirely.

The government has tabled its own amendments in a bid to shore up support for the measures and head off concerns that there are inadequate safeguards in the approval process for exemption applications.

In the petition, which has received more than 92,000 signatures against its target of 100,000, Willow said: “The government says [the clauses] will encourage innovation, but we fear the loss of essential services and support for children and care leavers by cash-strapped councils.

“There has been no public consultation and no evidence produced by the government to support the plan to offer up for abolition every legal duty made for vulnerable children and care leavers since 1933.”

In a letter sent to organisations last week urging them to support the measures, Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker for children, said the exemptions were a chance to trial changes to a system that was “overly-bureaucratic”.

She said most people agreed with the 2011 Munro review’s assessment that social workers were not being given enough time to do direct work with families.

“If we don’t support this power we can no longer complain that the system is too bureaucratic and that we were hamstrung by legislation,” she said.

Read more from both sides of the debate: ‘Scrapping red tape or safeguards? The fight for the future of children’s services’

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4 Responses to Surge in support for petition against social care duty ‘exemption’ plans

  1. LongtimeSW October 19, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    Related to this is a documentary on BBC2 last night and the Billions (not an exaggeration I’m afraid) made by ‘consultants’ such as (you may have heard of them) Capita, S4C, Amey, PWC, Virgin from Local authorities.

    This is Bad law which will make for Bad outcomes. It should be opposed and if necessary Judicially Reviewed at the earliest opportunity

  2. Nokuthula Mzizi October 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    This will compromise safety of children, therefore I I oppose this law and appeal for a Judicial review.

  3. Alison Hixson October 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

    This will personally effect myself my grandson 4years old whom I am main carer for also my daughter who has chronic mental health condition. Another cop out by the local authority let down again

  4. HelenSparkles October 26, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    Apart from this being poorly drafted legislation, and having had no consultation (Green Paper) there is already a point to be made about the power to innovate already existing.