FCYP and RS April 2016 Update

Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

The Association’s Families, Communities & Young People and the Resources & Sustainability Policy Committees met on Friday 1 April in London.

The group welcomed representatives from Social Finance and the Cabinet Office to discuss social impact bonds (SIBs). There are currently 32 SIBs across the UK, just a handful relate to children’s services at this time. A SIB is essentially a contract between an investor and a public sector body in which a commitment is made to pay for improved social outcomes that result in savings to the public purse. A return of up to 10% can be expected. The group was keen to understand how decisions are made in terms of whether the results achieved are solely based on the interventions relating to the SIB. During discussions members raised some concerns about the range of available investors and it was suggested that LAs, or groups of LAs, might want to consider becoming investors themselves. The government has recently renewed its commitment to SIBs over the coming parliament and the Cabinet Office has produced a range of online resources to help other government departments and LA commissioners to understand SIBs.

Discussions then turned to the ongoing consultation on the principles that will underpin the DfE’s new schools funding formula. The removal of a large proportion of the education support grant (ESG) is a pressing concern and is in danger of leaving LAs, and schools, on a cliff-edge next summer. There was a general feeling that ADCS should call for greater flexibility around the high needs funding block to support the needs of children. The group was concerned that the draft plans represent the removal of local discretion and democracy. Widespread concerns were also raised about MATs being able to distribute funds at will – funds allocated to a school in one LA area could potentially be used in a different school in a totally different LA which could lead to inequity of treatment.

The group reviewed the draft brief for the fifth iteration of ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research. Researchers hope to include more qualitative information than previously and will also seek to include the voice of the child. The group suggested some additional areas of focus would be helpful e.g. the impact of the prevent agenda as well as a granular study of social worker vacancy rates. Information gathering will take place over the summer months and it is hoped the findings will be available at the NCAS Conference in Manchester in the autumn.

The group reviewed the Association’s written response to Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system. The group suggested greater emphasis should be placed on flexibility over use of resources as well as governance and devolution. There was also a call to reference rising birth rates between 2000 and 2010. This must be factored in to future plans,particularly around the capacity of the secure estate.

The final substantive item on the agenda was a discussion about devolution and how this might improve the lives of children and young people. Transport and economic regeneration have been at the forefront of deals to date but reps from Greater Manchester shared a brief overview of the different workstreams in train relating to children’s services e.g. youth offending, complex safeguarding issues and education. The group felt devolution could usefully be included on the programme for the ADCS annual conference in July. Other areas of discussion on the day included UASCs and childcare sufficiency.

The Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committee will meet again on Friday 10 June in conjunction with the Workforce Development Policy Committee.

The Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee will meet with the Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee on Friday 17 June in London.

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