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Question to Kent County Council [with answer], 21 July 2011: Voluntary Services Commissioning

July 21, 2011 9:02 AM

Question by George Koowaree to the Cabinet Member for Children Services

"Will the Cabinet Member for Children's Services remind the Council of the total expenditure in 2010/11 on commissioning from the voluntary sector of services relating to children's safeguarding and wellbeing, of the planned expenditure on this in 2011/12; inform the Council of the numbers of Service Level Agreements with voluntary organisations working in this field which will be discontinued during this financial year, and of those due to be decommissioned on the 31st of March 2012?"

Answer

Thank you for the opportunity to inform members how this part of the council's safeguarding responsibilities to children and young people are being taken forward.

In 2010/11, in what now comes within the remit of Families & Social Care, the total spend to Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations for services related to safeguarding and wellbeing for children and young people was £15.9m.

So far in 2011/12, commitments to the VCS related to safeguarding and well-being services for children and young people are planned to amount to £17.5m. This increased spending is largely due to investment in 16+ Leaving Care services.

During 2011/12, 13 service agreements with the VCS for children's safeguarding and well-being have expired or are due to expire. Of these, 1 ended on the 1 June and 12 will end on the 30 Sept, following a temporary 6 month extension of their previous agreements. The ending of the agreements may cause concern to the organisations delivering these services however Equality Impact Assessments have been undertaken. There were no high-risk implications for the protected groups of service users and these assessments will be published shortly.

On the 31 March 2012, a further 160 service agreements with VCS organisations delivering children's safeguarding and well-being services will expire, having reached the end of their current agreements. Work is progressing on introducing new commissioning frameworks for both Early Intervention & Prevention services and for Disabled Children's Services. These will ensure that new services are in place from the beginning of April 2012 and that in future all commissioned services are:

  • Focussed on achieving our strategic objectives, such as the Improvement Plan
  • Delivered by providers who have been quality-assured
  • Commissioned in a way that avoids duplication and inefficiency, and are
  • Competitively tendered and procured in line with 'Spending the Council's Money'

All current service providers have been informed of the planned changes and have been able to take part in the tendering process for new services. While I recognise the uncertainty this presents organisations, I am confident that this is the right approach to ensure that KCC delivers on its commitment to the safeguarding of children and young people and provides the best services to them.