Every child matters?

Child protection makes good spin, but here is another example of the declining commitment to children genuinely at risk of harm. Words fail me. The whole article is in this month’s Law Gazette.

New proposals to force local authorities to bear the cost of children’s care cases could see vulnerable children put at serious risk, family lawyers warned this week.

Solicitors told the Gazette they were alarmed that the government is trying to rush through new rules obliging councils to pay a £4,000 court fee before they can issue proceedings to take a child into care. The current fee is £175.

The proposals are part of the government’s strategy to make the courts system completely self-funding, through fees. Local authorities have been told they have already been provided with the necessary budget to pay the £4,000 fee.

Graham Cole, local government representative on the Law Society’s family law committee, said: ‘Government says that provision has been made by local authorities, but all the finance managers I have spoken to have not been able to find this provision. This will have a very significant deterrent effect on local authorities bringing care proceedings and will leave vulnerable children at risk.’

He added: ‘The consultation runs until 11 March but the proposals are due to come in on 1 April. This looks like a done deal that is being rushed through.’

The full consultation document is here (pdf). See page 8.

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6 Responses to Every child matters?

  1. Carlotta says:

    It beggars belief. All that money for a telephone directory, (ContactPoint) and yet when it actually comes to getting something necessary done….an increased disincentive. The sense of impending doom is simply awful.

    Am seeking some consolation and wondering if the increase in court costs will mean that there will be less motivation for LAs to pursue unnecessary School Attendance Orders on autonomously home educating parents. (There is at least one such current case that I know of.)

  2. archrights says:

    It’s astonishing, isn’t it? Each day the family courts have a steady procession of clear-cut neglect cases that have been well-handled and never make the news. What will happen now? And for all the government’s enthusiasm for using Victoria Climbie’s name to sell Contactpoint, this policy gives LAs an even stronger disincentive to looking more closely at children like her, whose relatives are constantly on the move.

    You’re probably right about the SAOs, though.

  3. Peter Darby says:

    So not only making the haystack bigger, but charging them for the use of a magnifying glass. Genius.

  4. hope says:

    will it help stop the forced adoptions from families that have not abused their children but are taken to meet the governments adoptions target..although they say these have been scrapped

    bet they wont mind forking out the fees for these children whilst continuing to leave the abused children to suffer ..far easier to adopt out and remove

  5. Claire says:

    “Local authorities have been told they have already been provided with the necessary budget to pay the £4,000 fee.”

    Interesting. I understand that only those authorities on the funding floor have been allocated extra money, which is not new, but has been taken from the existing budgets of other authorites. Kinda makes you wonder what the consultation’s worth. When’s Easter this year?

  6. [...] to £4,000. A shame they couldn’t have done so when the government might still have been persuaded against it, rather than two days before the new rules come into effect, but that’s [...]

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