March 2017 



Chairs Introduction from David Ashcroft


This month’s newsletter aims to keep you up-to-date with several fast-moving issues. These reinforce why it is important that we continue to be a strong network of chairs and partnerships, and can support each other, and work constructively as change happens.

The Children and Social Work Bill now looks very different from when first introduced – with changes to social work regulation; compulsory sexual and relationship education included; the removal of the exemption clauses. But the safeguarding arrangements have still not been effectively scrutinised and leave a great deal to be worked out through subsequent regulation and guidance. A lot rests on the courage and capacity of existing local partnerships to face up to the challenges for the future. We believe that chairs, individually and collectively, must lead this debate and set out the essential requirements if we are not to create a fragmented and weakened system of multi-agency working.

The AILC Board – representing our networks across the regions – met at the end of February and is determined to make sure that we sustain the Association to support all members as effectively as possible through to at least 2019; that we engage actively with and seek to influence the changes to local safeguarding arrangements; and that we continue to be a loud, proud voice for keeping children safe. We will need to change and adapt as new arrangements become clearer but never has it been more important that there is an influential voice for safeguarding expertise, and that individual chairs and partnerships are supported in practical and well-informed ways.

We will be writing soon to all Chairs and Partnerships asking you to renew your membership for the coming year and setting out again why this is important and what boards and chairs get for their support. Without your continuing commitment and contributions, we cannot fulfil the role you want. The paid-up membership of chairs and partnerships gives us the influence and authority to speak truth to power on safeguarding issues. I want the Association to be able to concentrate on active and positive work, not spend its time chasing funding. We therefore need your early commitment to continue to support each other through the Association. It will be easier now to process subscriptions through our website (for example by payment by credit/debit/payment cards). Thank you to those chairs and partnership who have already made commitments for the coming year.

We are working to improve the benefits of membership through sharing experience and evidence of what works, strengthening the support for regional and local networks, as well as maintaining our influence with others.

Our National Conference will be held this year at Crewe Hall, Cheshire on 21 and 22 November. Full details will be circulated shortly. We have listened to the feedback about last year’s conference and hope that this year’s event will be even more useful and valuable. The venue is close to rail and road connections, and is accessible from all parts of the country. A London venue is prohibitively expensive. Sally Lewis is the AILC Director leading our working group to plan the conference. Volunteers to join this group from chairs or business managers are always welcome. Please let us know by emailing info@lscbchairs.org.uk

AILC is working with other key partners to develop some practical guidance on how partnerships can create new local arrangements within the framework of the CSW Bill. Please continue to keep us informed of local discussions. In the East of England region Chairs will working with Directors to develop some models and core questions to frame these discussions. As these ideas progress we will provide information via the website on developing models, key questions, and the minimum requirements for safe and effective local arrangements. We are working to ensure that these minimum requirements are strongly set out in the relevant regulations and guidance.

Please remember that current legislation and obligations for LSCBs remain in force, and that the Bill will not remove the obligations on agencies for safeguarding in Section 11 of the Children Act and elsewhere. We are arguing strongly to the Department and partners that we cannot have a ‘cliff edge’ which leaves safeguarding arrangements uncertain or fragmented, even where there are positive reasons to update and improve these. This is why testing future proposals against our key propositions and lobbying to get clear regulations and guidance and a comprehensively revised Working Together is so important.

Association News

The Children & Social Work Bill Update

At the beginning of this month, there was a dramatic and surprising turnaround from Government who decided to abandon the “exemption” clause, which would have allowed the possibility of an opt out for some services from compliance with child protection legislation. This recent change occurred after considerable lobbying, including representations and public statements of concern from Lord Laming and Professor Eileen Munro, and following pressure from 50+ organisations via TogetherForChildren, stating “Innovation and creativity in children’s social care are vital and necessary. However, allowing local authorities to pick-and-choose their legal duties towards children is a dangerous idea that would have fundamentally undermined the rule of law. There was no consultation on these radical changes.”

This change leaves the proposals for new local safeguarding arrangements as the area where ‘freedom and flexibilities’ are encouraged, but without sufficient clarity on the minimum requirements or the essential functions, authority and funding that are necessary to make effective multi-agency safeguarding arrangements work well. AILC will continue to press on these issues.

On 7th March 2017, the Bill passed through the Report and Third Reading Stages in the HOC:

  • You can read the decisions here
  • Recent Amendments which were accepted included relationships education for primary, and sex and relationships education for secondary school children. There were two very narrow defeats on recent Amendments - New Clause14 Amendment on Unaccompanied Children (related to Dubs) was defeated 287 to 267, and Amendment 12 on Specialist Domestic Abuse Expertise on Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel was defeated 299 to 271
  • Tim Loughton said “we don't need to remove, on a whim, primary and secondary legislation". He also referred to the inconsistencies of safeguarding outcomes - he pointed out that LAC varies across the country from 187 to 753 per 10k. CP varies from 16 to 180, and that "We owe the same duty to children regardless of where they live" (See AILC’s tweet)
  • Nobody referred to LSCB abolition
  • The Bill will now go back to the HOL, and then to Royal Assent

AILC representatives, together with several other LSCB Chairs, attended a series of four DfE consultative meetings in the last few weeks. Thank you to the Chairs and Board staff who contributed to these discussions. AILC also held its own meeting with DfE, and is working with ADCS, LGA and other key partners to agree common issues. To date at these meetings, AILC has consistently stressed the key principles agreed by members:

  • Children’s Rights
  • A multi-agency approach which includes ALL agencies particularly schools
  • Meaningful and continuing scrutiny and challenge
  • A strong independent element that provides leadership and brokers the different priorities of partner agencies in the interest of children and young people.

AILC is developing a framework of functions and fundamentals to help LSCBs decide the best format for future arrangements. Thank you for the positive responses we have had to our recent briefings and to our submission on the Bill.

AILC’s latest briefing note which Chairs and Business Managers can use in local discussions about future arrangements says “The Association of Independent LSCB Chairs is concerned that the current proposals for local safeguarding arrangements are a backward step from the comprehensive obligations and accountability established”. Click here

You can see the latest progress of the Bill in the Parliament website here

What are your views on the Bill? Chairs, Business Managers and LSCBs, please send your views on the Bill and what will be required to make its proposals work so that AILC’s discussions are well informed by your perspectives - to policy@lscbchairs.org.uk

Child Death Reviews

Our Treasurer Chris Miller represents child death processes for AILC and following attendance at recent DOH meetings is writing to all government departments to express concern regarding lack of reference to police within the proposed new reviewing process. The Association is considering producing an overview document to inform and assist these discussions to ensure that the wealth of experience held across the membership and the important principles embodied in the CDOP arrangements are in full view. You are welcome to send any comments or questions to Chris via manager@lscbchairs.org.uk

AILC Mentoring Support Scheme for Chairs Undergoing Inspection

Is your LSCBs yet to be inspected under SIF? Please contact info@lscbchairs.org.uk who will link you to a mentor to support you. We would like to thank those who have stepped forward and welcome more mentors. Regional Directors will continue to act as a point of support and reference.

IR35

Most members will already be aware of the impending changes to IR35 rules from this April and the budget has introduced further changes to National Insurance, VAT, dividend payments and pensions that may well affect chairs' employment position and remuneration. Whether you are working as a self-employed person, as an office holder, or as a limited company contracting for services, there are likely to be significant implications. The Association cannot, and does not have the expertise, to provide specific individual advice but we do advise all members to seek appropriate advice from your accountant or similar professional advisor. There has been a great deal of concern from interims, consultants and other public service contractors, about the IR35 rules and the uncertainty and late information, and the very late release only last week of the HMRC’s tool for calculating possible inclusion does not make this easier. It is already clear that different public bodies, and different HMRC offices around the country, are taking different lines on this issue - so if you undertake work for more than one authority or public body you may find different rules are being applied. These changes may also affect SCR authors and other contractors used by LSCBs and as the commissioning body this may carry implications for LSCBs and local budgets.

Ofsted Analysis by AILC

Our next analysis of the latest Ofsted reports, with themes for LSCBs, will be published in April 2017. Meanwhile we have undertaken some analysis comparing this year’s judgements with last years, and the good news is that there is an overall trajectory of improvement, with nearly half of LSCBs being judged “Good” or “Outstanding” in the last year.

Events of Interest to LSCBs

We are promoting events that LSCBs may be interested in attending on our Public Events page - now live! See the latest including a FREE symposium for LSCBs on CSE, click here. If you know of events that would be of interest then please let us know.

AILC Website Development for YOU!

We are providing better access to resources for members and sharing what we know about effective safeguarding partnerships.

As you know we reached a view that the well served Effectiveness Framework would benefit from updating, once the new website was up and running.

We are now moving into the first phase of this using an A-Z contents system (also searchable by key words) As it is rolled out you will find information/links and contacts on a wide range of topics relating to safeguarding partnerships, the functions required of them, matters relating to the role of chairs and a range of thematic topics.

Directors are leading on the generation of new and revised content to trial the format and the system, and a key part of this is to strengthen the link with local examples and evidence. All content is editable and we also want to promote conversations so we will with consent provide contact details of people who can expand or help.

We are also archiving the existing material and where possible and time permitting bringing this into the new approach.

National Policy News

Sex & Relationships Education

Will now become statutory requirements. This is probably an issue you will want to look at in your partnerships. Click here

New Evidence Re Identifying & Understanding Inequalities in Child Welfare

Important new research by Paul Bywaters of Coventry University, this comparative study of the four UK countries finds that “reducing structural inequalities in children’s life chances, such as those identified in this research, should be a national priority for children’s services”. Click here

Characteristics of Children Who Display Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Understanding younger children, children with a learning difficulty and girls who use the NSPCC harmful sexual behaviour service. Click here

Health Visitor Mandated Checks are to Continue from April 2017

Good news from Government this week re Health Visiting checks as there has been some doubt whether these checks would remain. This connects to many local discussions taking place as a result of changes in the role of Health Visitors and School Nurses and the impact this can have on current local safeguarding arrangements. How well are your local Healthy Child Programmes addressing safeguarding issues? Click here

Harmful Sexual Behaviour: Learning From Case Reviews

There is a new NSPCC Briefing on SCRs. A summary of risk factors and learning for improved practice around harmful sexual behaviour, based on learning from case reviews published since 2010, where harmful sexual behaviour was highlighted as a significant issue. Click here. Many partnerships are focusing on HSB and this can help bring focus to this

Government Releases New Definition & Guide for Child Exploitation

The government has published a new definition and guide for child sexual exploitation (CSE) which draws upon a comprehensive review of evidence produced by the University of Bedfordshire and Research in Practice (commissioned by the DfE). Research in Practice and the University of Bedfordshire developed an extended version of the guidance Child sexual exploitation - Definition and Guide for Professionals, which the succinct definition and guide was adapted from. This provides professionals with background information about CSE and commentary around the complexities of practically responding to the issue.

Partnerships continue to provide system leadership in respect of CSE and missing so you will want to ensure that the revised definition is carefully considered for any impact on current arrangements across the scrutiny and assurance of practice.

New NICE Draft Guideline on Child Abuse & Neglect

This draft guideline and its supporting evidence are now out for consultation- consultation page The Closes on Wednesday 19 April 2017. Publication September’ 17. A potentially significant consultation as it impacts on primary and acute health care settings and professional practice, which will need to demonstrate fit with the wider joint working context led by safeguarding partnerships. The guidelines have been widely interpreted as encouraging more referrals – are your local systems thinking through the implications of this for the safeguarding front-door? Contact childabuse@nice.org.uk.

Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation: Progress Report

Government have published ‘Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation: Progress Report’ and announced a £40m package of measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and to crack down on offenders. It includes:

  • £7.5m for a new Centre of Expertise which aims to be the authoritative source of research and best practice on tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation, led by Barnardo’s
  • Independent Child Trafficking Advocates service launched in three early adopter sites across the country for which will provide specialist support to trafficked children.

This is likely to help and provide opportunities for partnerships in their role of setting standards and delivering assurance.

Disrespect NoBody

The Home Office has launched Disrespect NoBody, a campaign to help young people understand what a healthy relationship is and re-think their views of controlling behaviour, violence, abuse, sexual abuse and consent. Further information: Disrespect NoBody campaign. Many partnerships promote and connect with wider efforts to help young people build capacity and resilience so this may be of assistance across the wider strategic and public health context. Disrespect NoBody: campaign posters or email Lisa.Cooper16@nhs.net

Local Area SEND Inspection Outcome Letters Published Recently

Outcome letters from inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities are useful reading for LSCBs;

• Hillingdon

• Hartlepool

Current Ofsted/CQC inspections are focusing on children with disabilities and many partnerships have ensured that the developments around SEND are integrated into their core PMQA and Learning and Improvement frameworks. As with JTAI letters the SEND letters provide a useful basis and checklist for local self-assessment from a partnership point of view.

Rethinking "Did Not Attend"

Nottingham City Council, NHS Nottingham City CCG and the NCSCB have jointly commissioned a video animation to encourage practitioners to identify children as ‘Was Not Brought’ as opposed to ‘Did Not Attend’ when referring to them not being presented at medical appointments. Over the years, SCR’s and other forms of review have identified this as a risk area. Video on You Tube.

Mandatory Reporting of FGM

The Department of Health has recently updated guidance for healthcare professionals, outlining their duty to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in girls under 18.

Many partnerships are now at the point where they are reviewing the impact of the strategic responses to FGM that they have helped to create. As a result of aggregated national and local data being available partnerships are now in a position to form a view of local incidence and response, which in turn is helping to reset partnership-led initiatives

NAO Report for Children

The National Audit Office has published an easy-to-read report on children in need of help or protection. Using simple English and graphics, the report explains the main findings from the full value-for-money report published in late 2016. It sets out how well the child protection system works. Particularly useful in discussions with children (e.g. at children in care councils), and with colleagues less familiar with the child protection agenda. The full version of the child protection report can be found here.

This report was important and is particularly helpful as it sets out the pathways that children follow through referral, assessment, and intervention in their lives. Boards may wish to compare their local numbers (for LAC, CP, CIN etc.) with the overall patterns set out by the NAO. This has provided an additional level of context to many local debates and to the role of safeguarding partnerships in responding to local variations.

Contact the Association

Please do phone the Association on 07880 209 788 if you would like any help at all, or email info@lscbchairs.org.uk if you have queries or comments.

I always welcome feedback on the Newsletter or the activity of the Association. Please contact me at chair@lscbchairs.org.uk.

 

With best wishes,

David Ashcroft

AILC Chair

www.lscbchairs.org.uk

Association Phone 07880 209788
Follow us on Twitter @AssocLSCBChairs