We are making a number of changes to the child protection system. “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, the guidance that provides support and advice to those who look after children potentially subject to abuse, risk or neglect, will be republished shortly in a tighter and more focused way.
We are two years on from the original work, whose aim was to reduce the amount of bureaucracy and the time that social workers were spending on form filling. Many social workers are reporting that the situation has not changed at all and that they are still in a system that does not give them sufficient time to work directly with children. Where have things gone wrong and what is the Secretary of State going to do about it?
The hon. Lady is right to emphasise how difficult life is for many social workers at the front line. Part of the problem rests with the complicated process that we inherited, which the revision of “Working Together” attempts to address. The space or gap between the initial and subsequent assessments that children at risk of abuse or neglect have to face is one of the changes addressed through the Munro recommendations. However, we also need to change how local safeguarding children boards operate and to make sure that the capacity of the social work profession to cope with the challenges thrown at it is greater. That is being addressed through the College of Social Work and the additional support that we hope to give through the launch of the Frontline programme.