EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Children will suffer as clamour for urgent funds are ignored

Last week, the long-awaited final report and recommendations of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care in England was published.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 12:00 am
There can be nothing worse than using vulnerable children and families as a commodity for profit.
There can be nothing worse than using vulnerable children and families as a commodity for profit.

The review was promised in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto, but it didn’t begin until 2021.

It was clear from the outset that the impact of the review would be limited, as the Government made it clear, in the chair’s contract, that neither increased resources, nor finances would be permitted as recommendations.

Not only did these tightly-drafted terms bring into question the review’s "independence”, it was misguided to discount the voices of those working in children’s social care and, most importantly, those who had received or are receiving care and spent over a decade consistently asking for more resources and funding.

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The review was billed as a “once in a generation opportunity”.

However, the Government is waiting until later this year to formally start the process for any of the recommendations to pass through Parliament.

The report has received mixed responses. I, and many others, have been alarmed to see another attempt at abolishing Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs).

They exist to give children in care a voice, to ensure their needs are being properly met and to hold the local authority to account for their care.

Right out of the Tory playbook, the review also refers to how communities could help where services struggle to. This is naïve at best and dangerous at worst.

Social work with families is skilled and delicate work.

When children need help from the state, where protection from harm is needed, the "community” is not the place to do that.

Worryingly, the report also seems to be re-visiting previously defeated attempts by the Government to deregulate children’s social care by removing protective legislation - thus making services ripe for privatisation.

There can be nothing worse than using vulnerable children and families as a commodity for profit.

The clamour of experienced voices asking for urgent funding have once again been ignored.

It is children and families who will suffer.