Greater London Regional Update September 2019

London’s Response to the Regional Improvement Alliance Approach

Director leads have begun convening thematic workshops 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 15 July, directors heard about the progress that had been made following the thematic workshops on SEND and adolescent safeguarding.

Boroughs continue to submit their signed memorandums of understanding.

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. ISOS published their report, Under Pressure, looking at cost drivers, effective practice in managing pressures and potential for collaborative solutions. ALDCS is liaising with partners to take recommendations forward, particularly around joint commissioning.

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

All London boroughs published their new arrangements by the deadline of 29 June. 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 at https://www.londonscb.gov.uk/london-scb-contacts/. 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.

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.

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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