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.