Laming Report (Government Response)
Children, Schools and Families
Edward Balls (Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Normanton, Labour)
My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Justice and for Health, the Home Secretary and I are today publishing "The Government's Response to Lord Laming: One Year On", an update on progress on implementing the Government's action plan in response to Lord Laming's report, "The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report" published in March 2009 and a description of the priorities for the year ahead.
A great deal has been achieved. Over 50,000 people have registered for information on how to become a social worker in response to our national recruitment campaign. The action on health visiting programme has raised the profile of this important profession and introduced new requirements to monitor their numbers and case loads. There has also been significant focus and challenge on arrangements for child safeguarding across the NHS over the last year. A new police child protection delivery plan has also been commissioned which will set out recommendations for future improvements to police capability and practice to enhance the delivery of child protection within forces.
The report also pays tribute to the many thousands of social workers, teachers, police officers, doctors, nurses, health visitors and many others who support and protect children and young people. They are making a positive difference to so many children and young people's lives every day.
We are also publishing today a revised version of "Working Together to Safeguard Children". This is the statutory guidance used by all those who work with children, young people, families and their carers. It implements many of Lord Laming's recommendations and also takes account of a consultation exercise that ran from December 2009 to February 2010. The revised guidance strengthens the requirements relating to the publication of serious case review (SCR) executive summaries, including requiring local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) to make sure that executive summaries accurately reflect the full overview report and include:
information about the review process;
key issues arising from the case;
the recommendations; and
the action plan.
These requirements, made explicit in a template setting out a recommended format for SCR executive summaries, will build on the action which we have already taken to further strengthen SCRs. Today's revised guidance also builds on responses from experts in child protection such as the NSPCC and Barnado's.
We will be working with stakeholders in the next few months to produce a short practitioner guide to complement "Working Together".
We are also publishing today for consultation "Local Safeguarding Children Boards-Practice Guidance" and the Government's response to the "Working Together to Safeguard Children" consultation.
Also today, Sir Roger Singleton, the Government's first chief adviser on the safety of children, has produced his first independent annual report to Parliament on progress in safeguarding. I have written today to Sir Roger thanking him for his advice and support over the past year which has helped to shape and strengthen safeguarding policy across many areas. His report recognises the progress made but it also challenges us to go further in respect of resources, working closely with partners, learning from serious case reviews and supporting practice improvement. We welcome his report and look forward to working with him in the year ahead to tackle the issues he identifies, in partnership with the national safeguarding delivery unit and the many safeguarding stakeholders, service managers and front-line practitioners who are equally committed to making a difference for children, young people, families and carers.
One of the issues identified in his report is the increase in demand that many children's services are experiencing, especially children's social care. As a first step in responding to that, today we are announcing a new local social work improvement fund of £23 million. This can be used flexibly by local authorities and their partners to put in place local solutions which help to reduce pressure at the front line and to build capacity for earlier support and intervention.
This commitment of new funding sits alongside "Building a Safe and Confident Future: Implementing the Recommendations of the Social Work Task Force" which we are also publishing today. This sets out our long-term and ambitious programme of reform for social work.
Keeping children safe is our highest priority. I am committed to working across Government and with our national and local partners to do all we can to support, and where appropriate to challenge, with the aim of delivering the best possible outcomes for children and young people.