Government rejects £7m bid by Norfolk County Council and children’s charity Barnardo’s for ‘unique’ tie-up

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A much-vaunted partnership between Norfolk County Council and charity Barnardo's, seen as key to helping turn around the children's services department, has failed to get £7m of government funding.

When the partnership was announced last summer, council bosses said the 'unique' strategic partnership with the children's charity would improve the lives of looked-after children in a department twice rated as inadequate by Ofsted. The council said it would bring more resource and expertise to Norfolk.

Barnardo's said at the time: 'Working with Norfolk presents an exciting opportunity to explore how we can deliver better outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the county.'

Then education secretary Nicky Morgan announced the move would establish a joint looked-after children service - the first of its kind in the country.

But, in day 3 of our investigation into children's services, we can reveal the government did not back the new partnership's multi-million pound bid to the Department for Education's (DfE) Children's Services Innovations Programme.

A council spokesman confirmed the application for £7m had not found favour with the government, but that it hoped Barnardo's could help run an 'edge of care' service to reduce the number of looked after children from June. The spokesman said: 'Our partnership with Barnardo's is very much on track, with the organisations meeting on a regular basis and developing the exact detail of how this new and highly innovative approach will work. The project will provide intensive support to children and their families to allow them to remain at home, rather than coming into the care system, where it is both safe and appropriate to do so.'

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The spokesman added the DfE cash pot was several times oversubscribed and the failure to secure the cash caused delays.

The council has been working with Barnardo's on home-based care services for young people and support for adolescents.

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The new teams would be managed by Barnardo's and try to keep children out of care by helping to reunite those in care with parents where appropriate. The council says the authority aims to set up an adolescent support team itself and transfer it to Barnardo's control at a later date.

Barnardo's corporate director of children's services, Sam Monaghan, said: 'We are very much looking forward to working in partnership with Norfolk County Council and delivering quality services to children and young people across the county.'

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