Photo of Bob Ainsworth

Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education

(1) how many family court advisers are employed by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) in each CAFCASS region;

(2) whether his Department has issued guidance to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service on the maximum number of cases to be allocated to each family court advisor at any one time.

Photo of Tim Loughton

Tim Loughton (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education; East Worthing and Shoreham, Conservative)

holding answer 24 April 2012

CAFCASS is an independent body with its own procedures in place to deal with staff and workloads. The Department for Education does not therefore hold this information and has not provided guidance on caseloads. Anthony Douglas, the chief executive of CAFCASS, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of his response has been placed in the Libraries.

Letter from Anthony Douglas CBE, dated 24 April 2012

I am writing to you in order to provide answers to the Parliamentary Questions that you tabled recently:

105104: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many family court advisers are employed by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) in each CAFCASS region.

Please see the following table which indicates the head count for Family Court Advisors (FCAs) in each Cafcass service area on 23 April 2012.

Cafcass service area FCA headcount
A1: Tyneside, Northumbria, Cumbria 51
A2: Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire 52
A3: Greater Manchester 89
A4: South Yorkshire and Humberside 62
A5: West Yorkshire 61
A6: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 37
A7: Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire 64
A8: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset 78
A9: Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire 99
A10: Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire 45
A11: Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire 77
A12: Birmingham and the Black Country 93
A13: National Business Centre, Coventry and Northamptonshire 26
A14: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire 94
A15: Greater London 157
A16: Surrey and Sussex 44
A17: Kent 31
Total 1,160

105107: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has issued guidance to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service on the maximum number of cases to be allocated to each family court advisor at any one time.

While Cafcass has not issued any guidance to its staff which specifies, the maximum number of cases that may be allocated at any one time, we have been operating a trial workload weighting system, in agreement with our recognised trade union partners, NAPO and Unison. This system is based on ascribing a points ‘weighting’ to the various types and stages of family court cases in which Cafcass is involved. The total points value for each member of staff is then given a red/amber/green banding, with the expected being that staff should generally operate within or close to the green ‘expected’ range, rather than remain in the red or amber ranges.

Though the formal trialling of this workload weighting tool ended in September 2011, we have continued to monitor the workloads of staff using this tool, and we have recently agreed with the unions that a revised version of the tool is to be implemented, with effect from 1 June 2012.

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