Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments Twenty-Seventh Report

Analysis of Time Saved by Practitioners

Supplementary memorandum by the Department for Children, Schools and Families

Benefits of ContactPoint

1.  ContactPoint will deliver a number of benefits for practitioners and for children, young people and families. The benefits of the project include:

  • less time spent finding out which other workers are involved with a child or young person;
  • identifying children and young people who are not receiving universal services (education and primary healthcare);
  • better information to inform planning of support for children and young people;
  • supporting better communication between workers and agencies across the children's workforce - making multi-agency responses to a child, young person and family much simpler; and
  • helping to improve service experiences for children, young people and families.

2.  The project will monitor the benefits identified in its Business Case at local and national level.

3.  In addition to the direct benefits identified in the Business Case (which form the basis of the predicted 5 million practitioner hours per year (approx 113,000 hours per week) which can be saved (basis of this calculation set out below)), there may be other benefits including reducing the possibility of duplicated effort in relation to assessments. If ContactPoint indicates that a Common Assessment has already been completed it is less likely that another will be undertaken, duplicating effort already made - reducing the frustration felt by children, young people and families when they have to tell different practitioners the same stories over and over again.

Basis of the predicted 5 million practitioner hours (equivalent to £88m)

4.  The analysis in the table below shows the total estimated time saved per week for each of the Practitioner Groups included in the assessment presented in the Business Case.

5.  Time saved data were derived from the survey of practitioner activity undertaken in Trailblazer areas with a local Index in April 2005, and moderated in discussion with Index Managers in East Sussex.

6.  It assumes that practitioners work 35 hours per week and that the time saved by a National system is 10% greater than that saved by a Local system.

Practitioner Group % of

Time Saved

Work-force Estimated Time Saved Per Week (hrs) Est. Time Saved Per Week with a National Index (hrs)
School Nurse 7.2% 8002,016 2,218
Health Visitors 7.2% 10,00025,200 27,720
Social Worker 3.2% 27,00030,240 33,264
Education (Admin) 2.0% 22,02415,417 16,959
Paediatrician (Admin) 7.2% 7,19418,129 19,942
Connexions 3.2% 5,2805,914 6,504
Youth Offending 3.2% 5,2805,914 6,504
Total 102,830 113,111

Universality, Ordinary Residence and how ContactPoint might help the most vulnerable

7.  ContactPoint is principally about supporting early intervention for children who at some point in their lives need additional services (30% at any one time and 50% during their lives). Children move in and out of this spectrum of need and it is not possible to predict which children will require additional services or indeed when.

8.  A 'universal' system is much less stigmatising - every child is included and therefore no judgement will be made about a child because they are included. Without a universal system practitioners may make decisions about the need or vulnerability of a child in absence of all of the available information because they may only contact and speak to those practitioners that they are able to easily locate rather than all those that are working with the child.

9.  Holding records only for those children judged to be 'at risk' would prove a much more difficult task. It would require subjective judgments about whether the child meets the threshold for inclusion on the database and further judgments about whether they have fallen below that threshold and should be removed from the database. It is proportionate to hold a small amount of information on all children rather than continually making threshold decisions about which children to put on ContactPoint and which to take off.

10.  Practitioners have told us that being able to identify and contact others working with the same child is frustrating and time consuming process - time they would much rather invest in providing services to children, young people and families. In fact, a recent survey of nearly 3,000 practitioners told us that on average practitioners need to make contact with other services 107 times a year and that it takes an average of 4 hours each time.

11.  ContactPoint is designed to enable practitioners to quickly and easily identify others working with the child. So whether the child is in need of additional services or at risk of significant harm all the relevant practitioners can be quickly drawn together and, where appropriate, can work together to deliver more coordinated support.

12.  All children have a right to the universal services of education and primary health care. ContactPoint will show whether or not they are receiving those services and will support local authorities in their duty to identify those missing or at risk of going missing from education.

Ordinary Residence

13.  Where a child is in receipt of a service from an organisation listed in the Regulations and has supplied an address in England to the organisation then that demonstrates an ordinary residence for ContactPoint purposes.

14.  In Victoria Climbié's case, we understand that her Aunt presented Victoria as only being in England on a temporary basis. However, the Aunt was claiming child benefit and had registered Victoria with two GPs. On both of these counts Victoria's details would, under our proposed arrangements, have been supplied to ContactPoint.


15.  It useful to consider the case of Victoria Climbié again in order to compare how a database limited to children with additional needs would work in comparison to the proposed universal ContactPoint.

16.  Victoria was clearly a child who we would want to see on a child-in-need database. Those who met her did not assess her to be a child that had needs and, in part, this was because she was viewed as a child who was only here temporarily. Therefore it is questionable whether she would appear on a child-in-need database.

17.  However, because her Aunt was in receipt of child benefit and had registered Victoria with GPs she would have appeared in ContactPoint, had it existed at the time. Had the various social workers that came into contact with Victoria looked up her details in ContactPoint they would have found that she was known as a child living in England and was registered with a GP. They would have therefore been in a position to insist on taking notice of her situation and may have undertaken a Common Assessment as a result. She would also have been listed in a Children Missing Education report and her absence from education would have been followed up by her local authority. As a result, she may have been placed in a school and there her condition would have been observed daily.

18.  Only a universal database would therefore have been able to make a difference to her treatment.

19.  The key arguments for a universal database are therefore:

  • assisting practitioners to better understand the circumstances of a child and therefore better assess whether there are additional needs
  • better able to ensure that children do not fall through the net
  • proportionate - a very small amount of information just sufficient to achieve the objectives of ensuring that the nation can ensure that every child not only survives but also thrives and has the opportunity to achieve. Although we have a duty of care and to ensure that every child matters, we do not in fact know accurately how many children there are in England, let alone who are they are.
  • only a universal database will identify which children are not receiving education or enjoying the benefit of primary healthcare

Estimated Number and Type of Users

20.  The Feasibility Study on the project, which reported in July 2004, estimated that the tool would be used by around 330,000 practitioners from across the children's workforce (55,000 practitioners in Health, 158,000 in Education, 44,000 in Social Care and 75,000 in Youth Justice and others).

21.  The principal groups expected to require access to information held on ContactPoint are:

  • Children's Social Workers;
  • Connexions and Youth Services Workers;
  • General Practitioners (plus GP Practice Nurses and Administrators);
  • Health Visitors and Midwives;
  • Paediatricians;
  • School Nurses;
  • SEN Teachers
  • Heads, Deputy Heads and Heads of Year;
  • Education Welfare Workers;
  • Accident and Emergency Staff;
  • Youth Offending Teams; and
  • Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations.

22.  This estimate recognised the fact that not all children's services workers will require access to the information held on ContactPoint. In general, it is those workers who have responsibility for assessing the needs of children and young people and determining the best course of action to meet those needs who will need access to this tool. Where the worker's role is focused on delivery of services, there will be less need for a tool of this kind. Of those practitioners who do require access to ContactPoint data, the majority are expected to require Direct Access to the system, but some might either need or prefer ContactPoint data to be provided through a local or organisational contact (Mediated Access).

23.  These estimates will continue to be refined as Local Authorities and national Implementation Partners complete and refine the workforce analyses for their areas of interest.

Cost Breakdowns for Merits Committee

Breakdown of Implementation Costs - £224 million

24.  The breakdown of implementation costs is as shown below.

Activity Cost


Software/Development 15,473
Data Centre Set-up 19,467
Local Implementation Teams 62,492
National Project Team 32,503
Data Trials 533
Implementation Co-ordinators 6,477
Trailblazers 1,677
Infrastructure Set-Up Costs 447
Training for ContactPoint Trainers 1,878
Initial Data Supply 3,055
Support for Local Training 1,105
Modification of Data Suppliers' Systems 19,163
Data matching 4,113
Case Management System Modifications 28,965
Contingency 7,184
Local Communications and Promotion 12,051
Central Communications and Promotion 7,411
Total 223,995

25.  Local Implementation Team Costs, included above, will be funded from grants allocated to Local Authorities and National Implementation Partners. These will include the costs identified in the table below

Activity Cost


Local Trainers 7,149
Backfill for Practitioners[8] attending training 5,742
Training Facilities 3,421
Personnel 35,168
Communications 9,440
CRB Checks 4,192
Security Tokens 162
Local Case Management System Modifications 7,500
Total Cost to end 08/09 72,774
Allocated to operating costs (10,281)
Total Contribution to Implementation Costs 62,492

Breakdown of Operating Costs - £41m per annum

25.  The breakdown of operating costs is as shown below.

Activity Cost


Operational Team
Local ContactPoint Personnel Costs 13,210
Central Operational Management Team 1,101
Contingency on personnel costs (50%) 7,155
Long-Term Hosting 4,413
Disaster Recovery 1,099
Value Added Tax 4,721
Inflation on Baseline Cost Estimates 2,638
IT Support and Data Supply
IT Support 1,280
Data Supply Updates 360
Infrastructure Operating Cost 200
Contingency 914
Value Added Tax 482
Inflation on Baseline Cost Estimates 269
Other Operating Costs
Depreciation 728
Cost of Capital 70
Software Refresh 1,541
Governance Team 640
Total 40,821

26.  Local ContactPoint personnel costs include provision for an average of 2.4 full time equivalent staff in every Local Authority. This is expected to be sufficient to cover the additional costs incurred by Local Authorities. The roles to be performed at local level include:

  • Service Manager (1 FTE per LA on average);
  • IT Support (0.2 FTE per LA);
  • Data Administrator (0.5 FTE per LA);
  • Training and development (0.2 FTE per LA); and
  • User Administrator (0.5 FTE per LA).

Per Capita Costs

27.  The cost to build and implement ContactPoint is equivalent to £9.63 per C&YP [Children and Young People] and its estimated operating cost is £3.55 per C&YP per annum.

28.  It is not straightforward to estimate the costs that would apply if the coverage of ContactPoint were restricted to a smaller group of C&YP (e.g. Children currently in receipt of specialist and targeted services, or vulnerable children). ContactPoint will not, initially have any a priori information about which C&YP fall into these categories.

29.  It is unlikely that the same approach would be taken to build a database whose coverage was limited in this way as has been proposed to achieve universal coverage in ContactPoint.

30.  However, if the scope of ContactPoint were to be restricted to say 30-50% of C&YP, the fixed costs of the project would be spread across a much smaller population of C&YP.

31.  Additional costs would also be incurred to support filtering of data input (if data suppliers had to identify data relating to only those children with identified additional needs rather than those with an address in England - a task that the four national suppliers of data would struggle to achieve because they are not in a position to judge which children they should supply data for) and greater effort would need to be allocated to data matching and cleansing. The result would be a substantial increase in the implementation cost (adding up to £20m to the existing £224m cost) and significant increase in the per capita cost of ContactPoint.

32.  Depending on the approach taken and the proportion of C&YP included, the per capita cost of implementation could thus be between £39.41 and £70.86 per C&YP.

  July 2007

8   This is estimated to be required for a proportion of those who attend ContactPoint training Back

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