Birmingham: 1,200 staff to transfer to children's services trust

By Neil Puffett

| 21 September 2016

At least 1,200 staff are likely be transferred to an independent trust to deliver children's services in Birmingham, it has been announced.

Brigid Jones said Birmingham is in discussion with neighbouring authorities that are also looking to set up trusts. Picture: Birmingham Council

Speaking at a council meeting yesterday, Birmingham City Council's lead member for children and families, Brigid Jones, said the council is exploring two possible options for how the trust will run - as a company wholly owned by the council, or as an employee mutual.

The proposed scope of services that will transfer to the new organisation include "front door" services for child protection referrals, family support interventions, assessment teams, safeguarding teams, children in care teams, leaving care teams, the youth offending service and fostering and adoption services.

"The ‘probably in' list of services to go into the trust constitutes around 1,200 employees, so it's quite a large consultation exercise," Jones said at the meeting.

Jones said the result of the staff consultation and the preferred format of the trust will be reported to the council's cabinet in January.

The number of staff that could transfer to the trust could be even higher than 1,200, with the council still considering other service areas that could be transferred, including disabled children's social care, residential care homes for disabled children, the virtual school service for children in care, and children's legal services.

Services that are "unlikely" to be transferred include education services, early years, school nursing and health visiting.

Speaking at the meeting, Jones said Birmingham is in discussion with neighbouring authorities that are also looking to set up trusts.

Neighbouring authorities include Sandwell, which was rated inadequate in 2015 and is set to transfer services to a trust, and Dudley, which was rated inadequate in 2016, and currently has a review being carried out by a government-appointed commissioner to decide whether responsibility for service provision should be removed from its control.

Other neighbouring authorities include Solihull, Staffordshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.

Jones said: "Other neighbours have been looking at trusts as well - most of them forced down that route, and some of them voluntarily. So, of course, we are in talks with them."

Birmingham's children's services have been rated "inadequate" since 2009.

A total of 19 different options for delivering children's services Birmingham were initially on the table, prior to this being whittled down to two.

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