Headlines: June 11th, 2010

The man behind the report which recommended the abolition of three school quangos is calling today for similar radical reductions in the Children’s Plan. In a new report for the Centre for Policy Studies, Tom Burkard says local councils could be given more responsibility for the programmes in the Plan.

The plan was published by the department for Children Schools and Families in late 2007 and includes more than 60 programmes. The Department said it was ‘a vision for change to make England the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up’. Today’s report estimates that the budget for the various parts of the plan is five billion pounds a year.

The report says most of the programmes are flawed both in concept and in practice and that underlying them is ‘a remarkable and unfounded confidence in the ability of the state to regulate the lives of families’. It also identifies a number of other problems including some programmes being highly centralised, heavily influenced by prevailing educational and child-rearing orthodoxies and likely to be highly bureaucratic. It also says that implementation of programmes is left to a web of quangos, charities, private companies and local authorities.

Mr. Burkhard suggests local authorities could be given the discretion to implement and fund the more useful elements of the Children’s Plan, including Sure Start, enabling decisions to be taken at a local level and improving accountability. It would also allow the budget for the Plan to be cut by 1.9 billion pounds a year with responsibility for a further 2.3 billion being devolved to local government.