Social services to be given £58m overhaul

Around £58m will be spent in an effort to "transform" social services in the wake of the Baby P scandal, including a recruitment drive.

Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, outlined the Government's plans to improve services in response to Lord Laming's independent report, which accused local councils of failing to implement recommended reforms.

Mr Balls said he was committed to ensuring "greater openness", enabling the public to scrutinise child protection agencies better. The Government will also invest more in training and support for frontline services.

The reforms were aimed at "backing" the good work that is done in social work, said Mr Balls, and attracting good candidates to the profession.

Under the proposals:

* 200 university places will be created to enable graduates to convert to social work.

* A recruitment campaign will be launched to tempt back social workers who have left the profession.

* A newly-qualified social worker support programme will be launched for all new practitioners joining statutory and voluntary services this September.

* A new practice-based masters degree in social work will start in early 2011 so practitioners can continue to develop.

* A new advanced social work professional status programme will be launched to help experienced social workers stay on the front line.

Mr Balls also announced that Sir Roger Singleton, chief adviser on the safety of children, will report annually to Parliament and work with an expert group of senior children's professionals to advise the Government.

He also promised to overhaul the Integrated Children's System (ICS), the electronic case management system for children's social work. Mr Balls said his department was responding to calls for the ICS to be made "less clunky and bureaucratic".

The action plan was presented days after the stepfather of Baby P was convicted at the Old Bailey last week of raping a two-year-old girl. The girl, like Baby P, who can now be identified as Peter, was on Haringey Council's at-risk register.

The local authority's children's services department was strongly criticised for its role in the death of Peter, whose body was found in his blood-spattered cot with a broken back and fractured ribs. He suffered more than 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over an eight-month period.

Responding to the plans the Conservatives' children's spokesman Tim Loughton said: "Ministers cannot hope to entice more social workers back into the profession unless they fix the problems that originally drove them out.

"Social workers need to be back on the beat, not stuck in their seats – the Government has to take away the tick boxes and cut through the bureaucracy so the professionals can spend more time with children in need."

The Liberal Democrats' children and families spokeswoman Annette Brooke said that government ministers had "lost the plot".

"Today's measures are just a quick fix," she said. "There is not enough detail about the proposed new targets and, too often, government targets increase red tape and divert resources from the front line.

"We need a root-and-branch review of child protection, learning the lessons from the past and from good practice abroad."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?