Doncaster report reveals delays in establishing trust

By Neil Puffett

| 14 February 2014

Efforts to create an independent trust to run children's services in Doncaster are weeks behind schedule, it has emerged.

Responsibility for children's services in Doncaster are to be transferred to an independent trust.

Under government plans to improve services at the authority, responsibility for a range of services, including child protection, will be transferred from the council to an independent trust for a period of up to 10 years.

However a progress report due to go before Doncaster Council's cabinet next week, reveals that the authority is yet to finalise exactly which services should transfer to the trust.

A “memorandum of understanding” that was agreed last year between the authority and the Department for Education earmarked 20 December as the date when a decision on which functions and members of council staff will transfer to the trust should have been made.

A consultation with the affected staff was then due to begin on 2 January.

Until a final decision is made on which services will transfer, a consultation with staff affected by the changes will not be able to commence, meaning the process is at least six weeks behind schedule.

The memorandum of understanding set out that the trust should to be created “in shadow form” by 1 April 2014, and be fully operational by 1 September 2014.

The report, written by the council’s chief executive Jo Miller, states that Doncaster has put together an “indicative” list of which services will be transferred, and which will stay, but needs to spend more time considering where an “additional list” of services whose destination is yet to be decided, should go.

Services that are yet to be decided upon include the integrated family support service and the social work service for children with disabilities.

News on latest progress comes a week after Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed the former director of the Children’s Improvement Board, Colin Hilton, to the position of chair of the trust.

The trust has now started the hunt for a chief executive.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones and the authority’s director of children’s services, Eleanor Brazil have been put forward to be the council’s representatives on the new trust.

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