Greater London Regional Update - December 2019

The Greater London Regional Update

The London Innovation and Improvement Alliance (LIIA)

During 2019, London has made significant progress in the development of its Innovation and Improvement Alliance. Notably: –

• All 33 London authorities are returning data to enable quarterly benchmarking

• Every London authority has contributed to sector-led improvement work through peer challenge or through involvement with one of the thematic groups

• The first peer review has been undertaken, on adolescent safeguarding

• The ALDCS LIIA website has been launched

• Thematic priority groups are now well-established with developing work plans across all four areas: finance and resources; vulnerable adolescents; workforce; and special educational needs and disabilities.

An annual summit is planned for March 2020.

Funding Pressures in Children’s Social Care and High Needs

London DCSs are working with London councils, chief executives and finance directors to understand better the financial pressures facing children’s social care budgets and the High Needs Block. A members event was held in September to share the findings of work undertaken and shape London’s priorities for collaborative working. For the next phase, a working group is being set up to look at high cost placements, workforce and collaboration with the NHS in London in respect of achieving consistency in the health component of EHCPs.

Admissions

London primary schools received 96,598 applications in total this year, a 0.08% decrease compared to last year, according to figures published by the Pan-London Admissions Board. 97 per cent of children due to start primary school in London this September have been offered a place at a preferred school. There is growing concern about decreasing rolls at primary schools in some parts of London although this year’s numbers show a relatively small overall decrease. ALDCS continues to support boroughs with places planning, to ensure that all boroughs can meet rising need, particularly in secondary and special schools, as well as cope with reductions in demand at primary in some boroughs.

New Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements

In order to maintain a level of consistency across London and to facilitate communication across local areas, the new arrangements are either called Safeguarding Children Partnerships or Safeguarding Children Boards. Links to the new arrangements are available here. The London Safeguarding Children Board has agreed to have an executive of the three safeguarding partners at a pan-London level and ALDCS is represented on this executive. Engagement with the wider partnership will continue but in a different format. However, there are delays to implementing these changes as a result of difficulties securing senior level attendance from police and health services at the executive.

Children in Custody

A multi-agency working group, chaired by a DCS, is working with the MPS to reduce the number of children held in police custody. The group shares data on police requests for accommodation with local authorities on a regular basis. This sharing of data has enabled feedback on cases between custody suites and emergency duty teams thereby improving the police and local authority response to children held in custody. A protocol for London, which supplements the Home Office Concordat on children held in police custody, went live on 10 June. ALDCS has also asked local authority commissioners across London to develop approaches to the co-commissioning of non-secure alternative accommodation for children denied bail – there is insufficient demand for places for any one borough to address this issue.

There are pilots across a number of London boroughs to develop the safeguarding response to children when they are arrested. Examples of approaches taken include: custody suites contacting children’s social care as soon as a child arrives in custody; children’s social care visiting every child in custody in order to carry out an assessment and employing youth workers in custody suites to work with children and their families as they are arrested.


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