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 firstname.lastname@example.org