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Bill puts children’s social care at risk

Posted on 15/06/2016 by

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On Tuesday 14 June the House of Lords will start its official scrutiny of the government’s plans to radically alter children’s social care. 

Under “Power to test different ways of working”, clauses 15 to 19 of the children and social work billintroduce a fast-track process for the removal of any of hundreds of local authority duties to children, young people and families.

After a request from a local authority, or a specified person sent by ministers into a local area to oversee the improvement of children’s services, regulations can be drafted to remove any children’s social care requirement in virtually all of the Children Act 1989, the entirety of the Children Act 2004 and several other acts of parliament. The secretary of state will be similarly empowered to initiate this process. Children’s social care requirements can be removed for up to six years. This cap could be repealed at a future date, which is what happened with education law. There is no duty to consult local children, young people and families.

Parliamentarians will be asked to approve or oppose the regulations, with no opportunity to amend them. Once regulations have passed, those reliant on children’s social care will have lost whatever entitlements have been exempted. This could be the start of social care rights by geography. Innovation is vital and welcome but the scale of the legal requirements threatened by this bill is enormous, encompassing social care duties in respect of child protection, children in need, children in care, care leavers and disabled children.

The prohibition on profit-making companies taking on child protection services could be lifted. There has been no public consultation on these fundamental changes.

The government’s reliance on secondary legislation means it has not published any assessment of the possible impact of the clauses on children, young people and families. We urge peers to reject clauses 15-19, and call on the government to consult on its vision and plan for children’s social care.

Source: The Guardian