New £200million pot to improve children's services after failings at Sunderland City Council

Authorities such as Sunderland City Council will be offered cash incentives as part of an overhaul of social services for troubled children, the Education Secretary has announced.

Monday, 4th April 2016, 8:07 am
Updated Monday, 4th April 2016, 8:11 am
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan who has announced that town halls will be offered cash incentives as part of an overhaul of social services for troubled children. Photo credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Nicky Morgan has urged councils and charities to suggest new schemes for running children's services and bid for funding from a pot of £200million.

Mrs Morgan is also calling on cities to take control of children's services through devolution deals with the Government.

The investment comes as part of "landmark" reforms announced by David Cameron which will see failing children's services that are putting young people's lives at risk being taken over by other councils and charities.

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It came after inspectors found "serious and widespread" failings at Sunderland City Council's unit and experts were sent in to take over.

Related article: Bosses warn it will take THREE years to fix Sunderland’s Children’s Services after damning reportMrs Morgan said: "Every single child deserves the chance to fulfil their potential regardless of their background. Yet it remains a stark fact that we don't yet have excellent children's social services everywhere.

"When our most vulnerable children and families don't receive the support they need, it can literally be a matter of life and death.

"Where there is failure, we can no longer sit by and watch. We know children flourish when they are supported by leaders who have been given the freedom to translate their expertise, passion and drive into providing life-changing support.

"That's why today we're inviting charities and councils to come forward with their most creative ideas to transform the lives of those most in need because no ambition can be too great when it comes to transforming children's life chances."

Other measures announced by the Department for Education include an expansion of a link-up between universities and councils to teach and recruit social workers while secure children's homes can bid for increase funding for staff training.

Schemes which have already drawn funding from an earlier £100million pot include an initiative in London and Yorkshire called Pause, which helps women break a cycle of repeat pregnancies, and an outreach scheme for girls at risk of female genital mutilation.

Greater Manchester, meanwhile, obtained devolved powers for preventative children's services in November last year under the devolution deals initiative and ministers want all other devolved city regions to follow suit.

Announcing the reforms in December, the Prime Minister said powers to trigger emergency inspections of social services departments following complaints from whistle-blowers or evidence of poor leadership are also set to be bolstered.

At the time, Mr Cameron said: "We will not stand by while children are let down by inadequate social services.

"This will be one of the big landmark reforms of this Parliament, as transformative as what we did in education in the last.

"It shows how serious we are about confronting state failure and tackling some the biggest social problems in our country. Together, we will make sure that not a single child is left behind."