Chair’s Introduction from David Ashcroft
The start of another Financial Year – and you will have received from me a letter to Chairs and to Partnerships asking for your continuing commitment to membership for the Association. There is no increase in our subscription level this year, and we all know the acute pressure on budgets, but the sooner you can confirm your membership the better we can plan our work together for the coming year. Our collective voice is essential in this period of transition and change and only with your support can we attempt to argue strongly for effective multi-agency safeguarding arrangements for the future. We are listened to on policy issues, and can raise topics of concern to Boards, because we can say that we have the overwhelming majority of Chairs and Boards in membership – please help us to keep that influence effective.
I am delighted that we have confirmed the national conference dates and venue: 21 and 22 November 2017 at Crewe Hall, Cheshire. Planning is now proceeding on the detailed agenda. If you wish to suggest ideas please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are planning to conduct a short survey of members to gauge current views on safeguarding arrangements and to identify what are the issues of greatest concern and uncertainty for chairs and boards. We would like to understand what stage, if any, local discussions on future arrangements have reached. Details will follow shortly.
In terms of my own activity in the past few weeks, I have attended a seminar by the Independent Inquiry of Child Sexual Abuse, with whom we are seeking more regular links. I have met with Ofsted, CQC, HMIP and HMIC, and with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children, SCIE and the Department for Education. Some of the issues we have raised after your representations include the safeguarding implications of elective home education, the future for inspection arrangements of multi-agency partnerships and the future funding of local partnerships. I also attended the Children’s Improvement Board at LGA which met recently with representatives from Rotherham to discuss how they are tackling the challenges of intervention and looking at new models for the delivery of services.
This is also the season for many boards to be conducting their Section 11 audits and challenge sessions with partners. We have just completed our robust process in Norfolk that also involves our lay member and LSCB monitoring officer. This is an important area which tests how well partners’ own safeguarding arrangements stand up to scrutiny. I know that many chairs and boards have developed innovative and effective ways of carrying this out – it is an essential mechanism for holding agencies to account. I hope we can collate some good examples of how this works well.
For many members, the changes to IR35 will have been a dominant factor over the past month. We continue to hear that some members have argued successfully that IR35 is not applicable to the contracted work that they undertake, but some are finding that local authorities, citing HMRC, maintain that the role qualifies as an office holder. The general advice offered to consultants and contractors in this position of a change to payroll from a service contract is that you should seek an uplift in the day rate (an average of 25-30% appears to be the suggested level) to maintain the equivalent position. But as last month, I would stress that the Association cannot provide formal advice on this issue, and you should seek the appropriate financial and professional support for your own circumstances. We are concerned, however, about what these changes may do to the overall market and to the value and recompense that is regarded as fair and reasonable for those undertaking the complex and demanding work of leading local safeguarding partnerships. This will continue to be an issue with the implementation of the post Wood Review changes.
As we go to press, Children and Young People Now have just published a positive article specifically on LSCBs, in which I say ‘While only a couple of LSCBs have achieved outstanding ratings, they are not the only ones doing excellent work…. However (Ashcroft) fears that focus on safeguarding could become increasingly fragmented without a body responsible for keeping up momentum.”Click here to see the article on the “Members only” page.
AILC Press Statement on 21 March 2017
AILC has issued a new Press Statement on ‘No Good Options - the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’. "As the report argues", says AILCChairDavid Ashcroft, "We need a clear and consistent legal framework that operates across the country and provides a universal set of rights and entitlements –to enable effective partnerships, as modelled by the best LSCBs, and for which AILC's key principles are:
- Safeguard the rights of ALL children consistently across the country
- Duty to co-operate on ALL partners, particularly schools who see most of children
- Independent challenge, authority and resource to fulfil functions and ensure learning
The Children & Social Work Bill Update
The Bill passed through the Report and Third Reading Stages in the HOC on 7 March 2017, as detailed in our last Newsletter. It then went to the House of Lords for consideration of amendments on 4 April 2017, after which is Royal Assent. AILC representatives, together with several other LSCB Chairs, have attended consultative meetings with DfE, asking questions about how the new safeguarding arrangements will be agreed, and how we can be sure that they will be sufficiently detailed, safe, resourced and monitored. There are no clear answers yet, but AILC is developing a framework of functions and fundamentals to help LSCBs decide the best format for future arrangements. We are meeting with representatives of ADCS later this month to discuss our common concerns. You can see the latest progress of the Bill in the Parliament website here.
AILC has written to Government recommending that the police should be statutory partners in the child death review process (within the CSW Bill they are not). Chris Miller, AILC Treasurer, continues to lead on this area of work and would welcome news of developments and discussion across the country. Contact Chris Miller email@example.com
AILC Mentoring Support Scheme for Chairs Undergoing Inspection/SCR Decision/ Publication
We are grateful to the small number of members have come forward to offer peer support for an LSCB subject to a SIF inspection and we would welcome more mentors. Please do contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be put in touch with a mentor to support you. This operates alongside the existing peer support for SCR decisions/publication scheme - we would like to remind you that this is available to Chairs. For an SCR challenge/support discussion, please contact your Regional Director or:
David Ashcroft email@example.com
Alex Walters firstname.lastname@example.org or
Richard Burrows email@example.com
We would like, with member support, to further explore and promote how we can enable chairs and partnerships to support each other, to compliment any local arrangements.
AILC National Conference
Invitations for your National Conference on 21 and 22 November 2017, will be sent out next month.
We are already starting to develop the content and welcome Chairs and Business Managers views about topics and speakers you would like to see. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Directors are working on new and existing content as we start the shift from the “Effectiveness Framework” content to the new A-Z Resource for Safeguarding Partnerships. This will ensure easier access to useful information, links and contacts on an increasing range of topics and issues. We are particularly keen to include more examples of what people find works as well as promoting contact between members.
Business Managers…..do you have examples of work your LSCB has undertaken or policies created which you can share (with members only) on AILCs website? Please send these to Sarah Webb at email@example.com, to ensure that your LSCB is part of the sharing of practice across the country, aiming to improve safeguarding for all.
National Policy News
What makes a good 'front-door' service that fully protects children?
ThisOfsted Social Care Commentary, by Eleanor Schooling, has been published recently, clickhere,and provides advice on analysis, sharing information, risk and multi-agency discussions at the front door.
This provides a helpful and current update on an area that as recent inspection reports highlight is an area where LSCBs are seen as a source of assurance and leadership. Eleanor Schooling would welcome feedback on this and other commentaries – please copy the Association into any response you may make.
Social Science Tips Valuable for LSCBs
Information from LSE on How you can Influence Policy:These tips are valuable for LSCB Business Managers and Chairs - Strong science; Engage, Educate & Enable; Broker; Foresee opportunity; Integration; Know Strengths; Validate and Add value. Clickherefor further information.
Local Authority Children’s Services Inspections
Ofsted has set out itsfuture plansfor the inspection of local authority children’s services. These plans will be subject to piloting over the coming months, ready for implementation at the beginning of next year and have been welcomed by the sector and the Association.
This will introduce proportionate inspections every three years, with a graded judgement, and focused visits between inspections that will result in a narrative judgement evaluating strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement to support local authorities to deliver good and better services.
Ofsted is testing whether an overall effectiveness judgement adds value or whether it is better just to grade the key practice areas: children in need of help and protection, children looked after, care leavers and achieving permanence and the impact of leaders and managers.
Any judgements will be made on Ofsted’s four-grade scale. The decision about the way forward will depend on the outcome of the pilots, which should be complete by the autumn. You can find the reporthere.
The Association is in continuing dialogue with DfE and the four inspectorates; Ofsted, CQC, HMIP and HMIC about the future inspection arrangements for the new safeguarding partnership arrangements which will exist under the Children & Social Work Bill.
MPs Slam Funding Crisis and 'Postcode Lottery' of Children's Services
The APPGC has just published a new report ‘No Good Options - the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’ - important reading for LSCBs. The report criticises “wildly different approaches” in the ways that councils intervene. The report suggests that councils were coping with a spending squeeze by tightening up the criteria by which they classify a child as being in need – cutting thousands out of the system altogether.
Tim Loughton said the inquiry had revealed that children’s services were stretched to the limit “and in many cases on the brink” and called on the government to urgently investigate the “extraordinary differentials”. “Any vulnerable child deserves the same protections and interventions wherever he or she lives in the country – but clearly, from such a huge divergence in outcomes, this is not happening,” he said. For further information, clickhere.
The Association was invited to submit evidence to this report, and we have met with the APPGC on several occasions. David Ashcroft attended the launch of the report and AILC issued a press statement, clickhere.
Contact the Association
Please do phone the Association on07880 209 788if you would like any help at all, or email firstname.lastname@example.org you have queries or comments.
I always welcome feedback on the Newsletter or the activity of the Association. Please contact me at email@example.com.
With best wishes,
Association Phone 07880 209788
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