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Government confirms plans for independent review of care

The government has confirmed it is to undertake a bold, independent review of our children’s social care system.

The confirmation in parliament came after a coalition of organisations working with children and families wrote an open letter to children and families minister Vicky Ford calling for the government to commit to its manifesto pledge of delivering a meaningful review of the care system which should improve the experiences, outcomes and life chances of care-experienced children and young people.

The coalition, which included representatives from Barnardo's, Action for Children, National Children's Bureau, NSPCC, The Care Leavers Association and Adoption UK, said a review is "urgently needed" to provide the opportunity to transform the experiences, outcomes and life chances of care-experienced children and young people in England, which for too long have "lagged behind their peers".

"In 2020, too many young people in and on the edges of care find themselves without the love, support and stability they need to heal and thrive. As you know, over 78,000 children are looked after by local authorities in England today, a record number, and many more are being raised in kinship care by relatives or friends or have left the care system through adoption," said the letter.

"Yet at the same time, local authorities are facing significant financial pressures, there is a lack of safe and secure places for children to live, and too many families find themselves without the support they need to care for children who have experienced trauma and adversity," it added.

However, in Parliament, Greg Smith Conservative MP for Buckingham asked the education secretary Gavin Williamson what steps the government is taking to improve children’s social care.

Mr Williamson replied: “We are working to make sure that more local authorities are rated as outstanding, with fewer failing, and we are also strengthening the social work profession. As was set out in our manifesto, we will undertake a bold, independent review of our children’s social care system so that we can go even further to provide children with the support that they need.”

Labour MP for South Shields Emma Lewell-Buck then asked why the letter sent to him in January, which was signed by 631 experts, to request an independent, whole-system review has been completely ignored.

Gavin Williamson responded: “I will certainly take up the issue of why that correspondence was not responded to immediately. I am sure that the hon. Lady recognises that it was within our manifesto—we have already announced it—that there will be an independent review looking at the care system for our children, and that is something that she will perhaps welcome.”

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