William Eichler 07 March 2017

Councils criticise amendment calling for safeguarding and welfare capacity register

Council chiefs have criticised a new amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill which requires local authorities to maintain and report a local safeguarding and welfare capacity register.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has argued the amendments - found in the new clauses 12 and 14 - would not further improve outcomes for children because councils already have a Sufficiency Duty under the Children Act 1989.

This duty requires all local authorities to ensure they have enough accommodation for their children in care and children on the edge of care. The LGA noted plans to meet the Sufficiency Duty are included in relevant commissioning strategies.

In response to the amendments, Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's asylum, refugee and migration task group, said authorities have an ‘excellent track record’ of supporting asylum-seeking and refugee children travelling alone.

‘In response to the humanitarian crisis councils have extended a helping hand, with around 90% of local authorities providing care and support for more than 4,000 unaccompanied refugee children in England,’ he said.

‘Those children who have already been resettled each received an individual package of care to ensure that they settled into their new communities as quickly and easily as possible.

‘Councils, working with local partners, have also ensured that any ongoing health and care support is provided to those children who experienced horrendous conditions in their country of origin or during their journey.’

Cllr Simmonds concluded by urging the Government to put in place long-term funding arrangements for resettling unaccompanied children.

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