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Olly Swann

Getting a Grip

Despite the huge spend on placements by local authorities, children in care continue to lag behind in every key indicator compared to children who remain at home. The placement they are in represents the biggest support package going into that child’s life, sometimes at a cost of up to £10,000 a week. So why aren’t outcomes better across this group?

iMPOWER’s new think piece, Getting a Grip, argues that children’s services are all too often left unable to quantify the value of their interventions and, in times of crisis, make the case for further investment. Similarly, Finance colleagues can struggle to get the evidence required to make informed decisions about how to best support children’s services.

The answer, the report shows, is a new system of resource allocation. Already extensively used in adult’s services, the Resource Allocation System (or RAS) has yet to be properly deployed in Children’s Services but would create the evidence base to give Finance Directors confidence in spending forecasts and management control, and would give Children’s Directors confidence in taking investment cases to Finance colleagues.

“This report is a direct response to what we’re seeing on the ground, and the challenges councils are coming to us looking for help with. The relationship between Finance and Children’s Directors is absolutely critical to the long term sustainability of local government. But all too often the evidence base that both sides need to make informed decisions about performance and investment just isn’t there. Our suggestion of a Resource Allocation System is modest, but would have a huge impact.” – iMPOWER Director and author of the paper, Olly Swann

The paper is based on interviews with Children’s and Finance Directors, plus iMPOWER’s 2016 Annual Insight Survey.

For further information, please contact Liam Booth-Smith at

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