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Education written question – answered on 15th October 2012.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth Labour, Coventry North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many and what proportion of family court advisers employed by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) are working a high red or high amber workload weight in each CAFCASS region; and what steps he is taking to reduce high red or high amber workload weights.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

holding answer 18 September 2012

CAFCASS is an independent body with its own procedures. Operational issues, including staff workloads, are the responsibility of the chief executive. Anthony Douglas, the chief executive, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of his response has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Letter from Anthony Douglas, dated 18 September 2012

I am writing to you in order to provide an answer to the Parliamentary Question that you tabled recently.

Since summer 2010, Cafcass and its trade unions representing front line staff (NAPO and Unison) have worked closely together to identify and address issues in relation to the workloads of our Family Court Advisers. A workload weighting tool, which was trialled in 2011, was revised in June 2012 and this revised tool is now in the process of being implemented. It incorporates a number of adjustments, intended more accurately to reflect the actual 'weight' of the various types of work that are undertaken by Cafcass practitioners. It also reflects the proportionate working expectations set out in the Cafcass Operating Framework, which was published in April 2012.

Please see the following table which indicates the proportion of Family Court Advisers assigned to a workload weighting band in each Cafcass region.

Data for August 2012
Team Headcount: Employed and agency FCAs % low red (less than 21.6) % low amber (21.6 to 36) % green (36.1 to 52) % high amber (52.1 to 59) % high red (more than 59)
A1: Tyneside, Northumbria and Cumbria 51 5.90 17.60 45.10 17.60 13.70
A2: Durham, Teeside and North Yorkshire 49 10.20 12.20 18.40 26.50 32.70
A3: Greater Manchester 82 13.40 11.00 51.20 19.50 4.90
A4: South Yorkshire and Humberside 56 17.90 14.30 55.40 12.50 0.00
A5: West Yorkshire 69 23.20 20.30 44.90 10.10 1.40
A6: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 29 10.30 20.70 62.10 3.40 3.40
A7: Avon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Thames Valley 64 14.10 18.80 37.50 10.90 18.80
A8: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset 60 11.70 15.00 61.70 6.70 5.00
A9: Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire 101 16.80 14.90 52.50 11.90 4.00
A10: Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire 42 14.30 7.10 45.20 19.00 14.30
A11: Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire 98 13.30 20.40 44.90 16.30 5.10
A12: Birmingham and Black Country 67 20.90 7.50 22.40 13.40 35.80
A13: National Business Centre, Coventry and Northampton 28 17.90 3.60 25.00 25.00 28.60
A14: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire 95 23.20 18.90 32.60 6.30 18.90
A15: Greater London 157 10.20 14.60 29.30 21.70 24.20
A16: Surrey and Sussex 38 2.60 13.20 39.50 26.30 18.40
A17: Kent 31 6.50 19.40 16.10 12.90 45.20
National 1,117 14.30 15.10 40.30 15.20 15.00
Notes: 1. The numbers in the column headings in columns 3 to 7 above relate to the average number of points held by CAFCASS practitioners in each service area as at 3 September 2012. 2. Points are allocated for different types of work according to the time and work effort they take. 3. The bands were defined as follows based on the snapshot of workload scores taken on 1 June 2012: low red—15% staff; low amber—15% staff; green—40% staff; high amber—15% staff; high red—15% staff. 4. FCA = Family Court Advisor.

Some caution needs to be exercised over the interpretation of this data, as it is possible not all data has been added to the Cafcass Case Management System. However, we are confident the dataset is becoming progressively more accurate. As has been the case since the launch of the trial version of the workload weighting tool in March 2011, all information has been made available to our trade unions both through full access to the system and through regular reports.

The use of the bands is intended to enable practitioners and their managers to have a sound, transparent basis on which to monitor the 'weight' of the work being undertaken and to ensure that when practitioners are carrying workloads that lie outside the 'expected' (green) band, attention is paid to the issue within supervision and through management oversight of the work of the local team as a whole.

In addition, we have used the workload weighting system as a basis for allocating additional resources to hard-pressed teams, where many of the practitioners were in the higher bands over a sustained period.

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