A borough and county councillor has expressed concerns that a proposed children’s trust to take over children’s services will be an ‘unaccountable quango’.
Labour councillor Danielle Stone, who is the leader of the party on Northampton Borough Council, raised concerns over the trust, which was announced by Secretary of State James Brokenshire as part of his decision to form two new unitary authority councils for the county in 2021.
It means children’s services, which are currently run by the county council, will become a standalone trust which will deliver services for the two new unitary authorities. The new authorities will replace the county council and the seven district/borough councils.
But the idea was not a welcome one for Councillor Stone, who is also a county councillor for the Abington and Phippsville ward.
Speaking at Northampton Borough Council’s latest full council meeting on Monday evening (June 3), she said: “This will be a quango that will be unaccountable and unelected. It comes against a backdrop of six years of abject failure.
“It will be far too remote. We need to have services run in the interests of people, not by a very distant, unaccountable body.”
She called on the borough council to work with the Labour group to come up with alternative plans.
Conservative leader Jonathan Nunn responds to Cllr Stone’s invitation to come up with an alternative plan by saying he was ‘happy to listen to her ideas’ in a cross party working group.
County council leader Matt Golby recently announced that the cost of setting up the children’s trust was not yet known, but that the county council would be likely to ask the government to help fund establishing it.
In its announcement, the Government said the trust would ensure continuity by ‘centralising children’s social care’, and follows a recommendation from the Children’s Commissioner Malcolm Newsam.
His recommendation was based on children’s trusts having proved a success in other areas such as Doncaster, Slough and Birmingham.
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said at the time: “Supporting vulnerable children and families must be the first priority of any government, so they can get the protection they need.
“The decision marks an important step for everyone living in Northamptonshire, and by creating a children’s trust to deliver children’s social care we will be able to provide continuity and stability that families deserve.”