A single organisation could be created to protect the welfare of children across Lancashire.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to the plan, which would see the three safeguarding children boards currently operating in the region – at County Hall, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen councils – replaced with a single entity.
The proposed change is part of work to redesign local child safeguarding arrangements so that they comply with revised national guidance issued last year.
The three agencies identified as being “key safeguarding partners” – local authorities, the police and NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – are to be obliged to co-operate to protect the welfare of children in their area.
The new government guidance does permit arrangements to be split across more than one top-level council, but Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for young people, Susie Charles, said the plan for a single organisation would allow “more money to be spent on safeguarding children”.
Labour opposition leader, Azhar Ali, wanted reassurance that “checks and balances” would be in place to ensure that there would be “no risk to children because of efficiency savings”.
But County Cllr Charles said that the new system would mean all parts of the county were “playing to the same rules”.
“I think that will be safer,” she added.
Papers presented to the authority’s cabinet reveal that young people and members of the community will have “an increased role” in holding agencies to account under the new system. Meanwhile, outside scrutiny will be provided by the creation of an independent chair, in a similar way to the current arrangements.
The role of existing partner agencies is also recognised and should be maintained, the document notes.
Individual councils will remain responsible for their statutory duties to children living in their respective areas.
The new organisation will be called the “Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Lancashire Safeguarding Children Strategic Partnership Board”.
Blackpool Council’s cabinet last month agreed in principle to the change, which will also have to be approved by Blackburn with Darwen Council, the county’s CCGs and the Lancashire Constabulary.
The new arrangements need to be finalised by 29th June.