Children’s minister Robert Goodwill has announced that the government will invest £20m on a new sector-led improvement programme for children’s social care.
Speaking this morning at the National Conference of Children and Adult Services, Mr Goodwill also acknowledged that children’s social care budgets are under pressure in some areas and said the Department for Education is looking to work with the Department for Communities & Local Government to ensure a solution through the fair funding review.
LGC analysis published yesterday revealed there was a £525m overspend in children’s social care services in 2016-17, quadrupling from £131m in 2014-15.
Mr Goodwill told delegates that the government wants to “move more quickly to establish when and where help is needed” to “avoid the crisis of failure”.
He said: “My commitment is that we will work with you to build a self-improving system, one that spots where challenges are emerging and quickly put the right support in place.
“To support this we will invest up to £20m in improvement support to help create a system of sector-led improvement founded on systemic and effective self-assessment and peer challenge.”
Mr Goodwill said he will work with local government to test the regional alliances “as the spine of a more robust, universal improvement system” with the aim of establishing alliances in every region by next year.
He added: “We want to work with you because you know what is going on in your services and you can recognise when colleagues are struggling.
“Not just directors, but chief executives and lead members need to lead and own their improvement strategies if they are going to make a difference and we would like them to have the courage to have difficult conversations with their colleagues where necessary.
“As part of this commitment to you we will also expand the capacity for our strongest local authorities to provide support to their peers as part of an expansion of our partners in practice programme.”
Yesterday, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services Alison Michalska said Mr Goodwill supported sector-led improvement but there were some differences of opinion on how to “beef up” capacity in the system.