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LSCBs Need Fair Funding and a Realistic Remit

Government must ensure local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) have a realistic remit of responsibility and are funded fairly by all agencies, leading local government figures said today.

LSCBs bring together councils, the police, health services, schools and other organisations to monitor and coordinate activity to keep children safe and oversee reviews of serious cases. However, across the country, councils are increasingly having to foot the bill when partners fail to meet their obligations to contribute a fair share of resources.

A new comprehensive study taking in the views of Board Chairs and partner agencies, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and carried out by independent researchers, Research in Practice, found that:

  • the original purpose of the boards to coordinate local safeguarding work and ensure the effectiveness of local activity to keep children safe, has become confused by increasing expectations that are not matched by greater power or resources
  • significant progress has been made in building a strong joint approach to safeguarding across local areas, but in too many cases work was hampered by a dysfunctional Ofsted regime
  • inspectors too often judged success on a board’s ability to correct failings of other organisations, even though Ofsted recently acknowledged in its own annual social care report that boards do not have the powers to do this
  • funding was not always shared equitably by all partners, and a disproportionate burden was often placed on councils as a result
  • the increasing independence of schools is making it harder to engage the education sector with local authority schools regularly represented but hardly any attendance from Academies
  • whilst everyone recognises the importance of learning and sharing lessons of serious case reviews, they are often too bureaucratic, increasingly expensive and the resource required is disproportionate to their usefulness in improving practice; a new approach is needed.

Speaking unanimously for the local government sector, the LGA, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) said: “Local safeguarding children boards are central to an effective child protection system, bringing together all the agencies working across a local area with the common goal of keeping children safe.

“It is clear from this research that a great number of dedicated and enthusiastic people are committed to making LSCBs work, and it is vital that national activity supports rather than hinders this work.

“All safeguarding partners are increasingly working together to protect children and young people from issues like sexual exploitation, radicalisation and gang involvement and so it follows that LSCBs are also under pressure to take on a greater workload. But greater clarity is urgently needed around the expectations on LSCBs in holding the local partnership to account, and the accountability of their independent chairs alongside that of local politicians, council chief executives and directors of children’s services.

“With councils often paying the vast majority of LSCB costs despite clear government guidance that partners should contribute fairly, it is clear that society and the government’s expectations of LSCBs will remain hard to fulfil.”

Dr David N Jones, Chair of the Association of Independent LSCB Chairs, said: “A clear and focused mandate and sufficient resources to do the job are essential if local safeguarding children boards are to continue making a valuable contribution to ensuring the safety of children and young people across England.

“This extensive review provides a helpful overview of the current position of LSCBs and the challenges in safeguarding children arrangements across England. We recognise the picture revealed in the survey and call on all with responsibility for safeguarding children and young people to receive and respond to the key messages.

“Independent chairs recognise that, in times of reduced budgets across the public sector, the priority must be to protect frontline services. It is easy to overlook the importance of ‘back office’ functions like LSCBs. However, if LSCBs are to continue to support improvements in the delivery of child protection and safeguarding practice, they must be resourced to do the job and to build and sustain the confidence of local people in the reliability of safeguarding children services.”

ENDS

Notes to editors.

1. The full research is available for download at www.local.gov.uk

2. The Association of Independent LSCB Chairs is the national membership organisation for Independent Chairs of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (www.lscbchairs.org.uk). For interviews and background information, please contact David N Jones (Chair@LSCBChairs.org.uk, 07880-209788)


Tags assigned to this article:
LSCB 17 LGA 15 OFSTED 13 SOLACE 8 SCR 8

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