Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Dr Steve Rogowski ( CSWB 27 )

Children and Social Work Bill: power to test different ways of working (new clauses 2 to 9) .

1. Summary. My view is that t he law is crucial in ensuring councils are not allowed to opt out of their duties and responsibilities in relation to vulnera ble children and care leavers . I therefore urge the committee to not allow exemption clauses to be reinstated and in so doing would li ke to make the following points .

2. I have been a practising social worker, mainly with children and families , across five decades (1970s - 2014) and I am very concerned about the ‘innovation’ , or more appropriately termed , exemption’ clauses. T hey are ‘exemption’ clauses in the sense that they seek to exempt councils from their legal obligations to protect the rights of vulnerable children and care leavers.

3. My professional exp erience leads me to believe it is vital all local authorities have the same statutory duties in relation to children’s social care. Not least they should all have a duty to investigate and assess allegations of child abuse. And they should all have a duty to provide help and support to care leavers. Surely there should not be a post code lottery when it comes to such matters.

4. A s indicated above , the law is central in relation to such issues simply because children and young people will undoubtedly be put at great risk if individual councils are allowed to opt out of their duties. I do not want to be over dramatic, but i t is easy to see that children and young people could suffer with even deaths occur ring if this was allowed to happen.

5. A nother concern is about privatisation possibilities arising from the exemption clauses . Surely profit-making from services dealing with vulnerable children and care leavers is reprehensible.

6. It is worth noting that I have commented on these issues in my regular column in the British Association of Social Worker’s magazine ‘Professional Social Work’ (Dec./Jan . issue) :

‘[the exemption clauses are a] threat to a legal safety net for children and families established over many decades [and furthermore ] could make services attractive to third-party providers and allow councils to opt out of rules governing the use of private providers. Surely we do not want profit-making from public funding which should be available for services.’

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7. In short, I repeat and re-emphasise my view that the exemption clauses should not be reinstated. 



December 2016

 

Prepared 5th January 2017