Welsh councils hit out over plans to slash number of safeguarding boards to six

All 22 councils in Wales have blasted Welsh government plans to reduce the number of local safeguarding children boards to six.

Deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas is looking to scrap the 22 boards and replace them with six regional boards formed along local health board (LHB) boundaries as part of in next year’s proposed Social Services (Wales) Bill.

But in a letter to Thomas, signed by all 22 councils, they stated: “We remain unconvinced that proposals to introduce regional safeguarding boards will provide effective safeguards in terms of safe and effective practice.”

Instead they believe that eight or nine boards would be better.

The councils added: “In our view, safeguarding structures should be determined by the need to achieve better outcomes and we are not convinced at this stage of the case for six boards.

“Our preferred option is a model that works towards eight or nine boards, accounting in particular for the vast areas and high populations covered by some LHBs.”

The Welsh Local Government Association, which has coordinated the councils’ response, is discussing the issue with Welsh government officials at its regular Partnership Council today (5 December).

The reduction in the number of LSCBs was announced by Thomas in October. She said that having 22 boards was “not sustainable” and LSCBs “are not working as effectively as we had hoped”.

“In my announcement in October, I made clear my intention to legislate to establish a robust framework for safeguarding and protection, including replacing the current local safeguarding children boards and adult protection committees with separate safeguarding children boards and adult protection boards, Thomas said.

“These proposals were developed after considerable work and engagement involving all key stakeholders, including local government, voluntary sector, children and young people, and I am satisfied that the evidence supports them, including the number of proposed boards.

“We will consult widely upon the legislation when it is brought forward next year, with the intention of this becoming law in 2013.”