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Greater London Region Update - November 2017

Funding Pressures in Children’s Social Care and High Needs

In common with other regions, London DCSs continue to work with regional borough treasurers and chief executives on developing a deeper understanding of the financial pressures being experienced by children’s social care budgets and the High Needs Block. Analysis has revealed that London boroughs are experiencing a collective shortfall of £100 million in the High Needs Block, and £94 million in children’s social care. We are conducting further analysis to understand these pressures in greater depth, and plan to use the findings to support lobbying for greater investment in these services.

Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) Costs

A survey has been carried out to collect detailed data on the costs of supporting UASC. The survey findings were used to inform our region’s response to the Home Office review of the daily rate. Alongside this analysis, the region has undertaken a survey of the costs of supporting households with no recourse to public funds.

Regionalising Adoption

London has made significant progress in developing the service and financial model for a future Regional Adoption Agency. This has been vital to ensuring that directors in the region are assured that the new arrangements will deliver quality improvements as well as more efficiency. The London boroughs met in October to approve an outline business case for a hub and spoke model and are now working in the proposed sub-regional groupings to discuss the details of this model.

School Places

ALDCS, with London Councils, has been lobbying for greater investment in school places and a shift in the free schools’ programme including the need to limit the approval of schools to those that are in areas of demand. The region has also lobbied for greater investment for places for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). London Councils worked with ALDCS on ‘Do the Maths’, its latest report on school places planning, which was published in September 2017.

Child Death Review Arrangements

The region will be working with health partners to consider the most effective footprint of CDRs in London. This will include considering how best to ensure the timely identification of trends and collation of lessons learned; the balance between local, sector and pan London delivery and reporting; and opportunities for standardisation and the role of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Children in Custody

We are working with the MPS to review our approach to providing accommodation to children denied bail. Directors will be aware that the profile of this issue has increased in recent years. The factors behind the challenge of ensuring we are providing accommodation wherever appropriate are related to both the capacity of the system as well as to the clarity of regulations among the police and local government workforce. A multi-agency working group has been set up to address this issue and is chaired by a DCS.

HMIC Safeguarding Inspection and the Introduction of the One Met Model

In the future ALDCS will consider the transformation opportunities available to the system and the longer-term relationship with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) given its transformation plans. The region is also actively working with the MPS on their improvement plans following the highly critical HMIC safeguarding inspection. A DCS is a member of the Gold Group overseeing the police response, and children’s social care and local safeguarding children boards are now represented on the range of groups set up by the police to take forward the HMIC recommendations. The most recent progress report from the HMIC acknowledged some progress but still identified serious concerns.

Sector-Led Improvement

Directors and assistant directors came together for a session on SLI on 18 September 2017 and discussions are now taking place to firm up plans for this work going forward.

Serious Youth Violence

Directors are planning a practice seminar to discuss and share best practice in relation to interventions for young people involved in knife crime and other forms of serious youth violence.

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