We taxpayers give Whitehall our money for things we could not otherwise achieve for ourselves. Is it not blindingly obvious that value for money should be assessed by what that money achieves, not by some contrived analysis of how public servants spend their time?
Yet department after department has not got the message. The Department of Health thinks it knows how to be a doctor better than doctors do. Education likewise thinks it knows how to run schools better than teachers do. The most disgraceful, perhaps, example is safeguarding children, or perhaps failing to do so. The Department’s response to each child abuse scandal is to commission another enquiry. This then further complicates the way child workers are supposed to spend their time which in turn leads to more safeguarding failures and so it goes. Rotherham at 1,400 abused children and counting may prove an all time high but child workers are so busy with redundant admin that you can bet the abuse continues willy nilly.
One such enquiry was headed by Lord Laming who, in 2003, said:
“17.65 There was no doubt that the work of each of the key agencies supporting children and families should be rigorously monitored. In the past, the tendency has been to concentrate on the measurement of inputs; for example, the size of the budget, the number of staff, or the range of equipment used. This approach is of limited value and does not address the more important question of what is actually being achieved, and whether the lives of children and families are being improved by the investment.”
13 years later that attitude has not changed. This summer we are expecting another “Single Inspection Framework” from Ofsted setting out how social services should spend their time to please Ofsted, not how outcomes should be measured, still less how they should be used to assess child workers’ achievements.
When the Minister’s attention was drawn, again, to the need to monitor outcomes, the response (19th April 2016) was, if the status quo was inadequate, to consider “alternative models of delivery”, i.e. having child workers spend their time differently and, no doubt, confusing them further thereby. Please, Minister, just establish the required outcomes and let child workers get on with it.
Read the paper online here.
Download the paper here.
We have to admit that we think that this is a bit of a strange thing to be complaining about: