‘Whether you see it as a battle to bust bureaucracy or defend children’s rights, the fate of ‘innovation’ proposals in the Children and Social Work Bill will shape how services work in the future. Andy McNicoll reports.
In little more than a thousand words, a passage in the Children and Social Work Bill hands the education secretary powers to exempt councils from duties under social care law for up to six years.
The controversial measures, set out in clauses 29-33, have been both praised as a bold attempt to free social workers from red tape and attacked as a reckless piece of lawmaking that amounts to a ‘bonfire of children’s rights’ and paves the way for privatisation.
Under the proposals, councils can apply to be granted exemptions with a view to achieving better outcomes or the same outcomes more efficiently. Poorly performing authorities under government intervention may be directed to opt out of certain functions.
Any changes would apply for up to three years, with a possible further three year extension.
The bill’s supporters say the aim is to test new local innovations that, if successful, could be rolled out nationally. But a coalition of more than 30 organisations is calling for the clauses to be scrapped, arguing they threaten a legal safety net for children and families that has been carefully built up over the past 80 years’.
This is a good, balanced piece by Andy McNicholl. Read in full: Scrapping red tape or safeguards? The fight for the future of children’s services