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Government agrees to remove ‘different ways of working’ clauses

Together for Children welcomes decision

The Department for Education has agreed to omit clauses 32 to 34 of the Children and Social Work Bill which is due to have its Report Stage on 7 March.

The 'different ways of working' provisions would have empowered the Secretary of State, at the request of a local authority, to make regulations exempting that local council from a legal duty in relation to children's social care. Legal requirements could also have been modified.

Notice of amendments to the Bill, published on 3 March 2017, show that Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, is a co-signatory of amendments tabled by the shadow Secretary of State, Emma Lewell-Buck, to remove the clauses.

The decision has been welcomed by Together for Children campaign which has marshalled opposition to the clauses and has had the backing of 53 organisations and over 160 individual experts. Over 108,000 members of the public signed its online petition objecting to the provisions.

Professor Eileen Munro, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, whose work has been consistently cited by Ministers as the inspiration for the clauses in the Bill has deserted the policy, recently said:

"I have been reading the debates in Hansard and the submissions … I've also been meeting with some of those who oppose the Bill and I have reached the conclusion that the power to have exemption from primary and secondary legislation creates more dangers than the benefits it might produce … While I understand and respect the motivation of the current Government, there is a serious danger in having such wide-reaching powers in statute.  Some future Secretary of State might use them in ways that are completely contrary to the current intentions and consequently subvert the will of Parliament."

For the Bill, as amended in Committee, click here. For the tabled amendments, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here. For statements by member organisations of Together for Children, click here.