Greater London Regional Update June 2019
London’s response to the Regional Improvement Alliance approach
Director leads have begun convening thematic workshop to delve deeper into the four priority areas - finance and resources; vulnerable adolescents; workforce; and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. These workshops will lead to the development of a more detailed work programme. At the meeting of ALDCS on 13 May, directors heard about the progress made in respect of SEND following the thematic workshop held the previous week.
Boroughs continue to submit their signed Memorandums of Understanding, and directors have now agreed to make a financial contribution to the work of the London RIA.
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 Need Block. ISOS has been commissioned to undertake qualitative field work in 14 boroughs, looking at cost drivers, effective practice in managing pressures and potential for collaborative solutions. ALDCS, with the research partners, participated in a roundtable in May to review the emerging findings and help shape conclusions. The final report is due to be published in early summer.
London primary schools received 96,598 applications in total this year, a 0.08% decrease compared to last year, according to figures published on National Primary Offer Day 2019 by the Pan London Admissions Board, the body with overall responsibility for co-ordinating school admissions in the capital. 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
ALDCS is monitoring the implementation of the new safeguarding arrangements and, in January, Directors discussed the changes they are proposing locally. ALDCS has committed to maintaining the London Child Protection Procedures and was represented at a meeting organised by the London Safeguarding Children Board of senior leaders from the three safeguarding partners. At this meeting there was a discussion of the implications of the changes and whether there are other issues, beyond the maintenance of the London Procedures, which would benefit from a consistent approach.
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 and raised awareness and understanding of the issues, 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, has been finalised and circulated to Directors and will go 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.
Pan-London secure settings project
ALDCS continues to work with NHS England (London Region) to explore a new collaborative solution to the provision of Secure Children’s Home capacity in the region. Discussions have progressed to the point of completing an options appraisal and recommendations are now subject to wider engagement with stakeholders, including political leaders.
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