At last, as Tynwald draws to a close, Question Papers become interesting again. More than interesting, in fact. Amongst a wide array of topics including many questions relating to hospital practices, monitoring etc. there are some exceptionally interesting queries with regard to the children’s department.
Readers might recall that Martyn Quayle requested half a million pounds for new working practices, at the final Tynwald sitting in 2011. We then discovered that a secret database was in use by the department and that staff involved in this schemee were directed to report if in doubt, this directive doubtless contributing to the vast amount (over 670 within a period of around 12 months) of over-referrals. We can imagine the impact of SS investigation on families. Mr Robertshaw, however, appears to be content with this vast amount of unnecessary reporting and the amount of man hours this consumes.
Many undoubtedly view the above as undesirable and interfering. However, we are now informed that while financial cuts have been made in this department the cost of the ueber-surveillance has been huge – and has seemingly not been officially sanctioned:
Question 31 from Mrs Beecroft directed at the Minister for Social Care: Pursuant to his Answer to question 27 in the June sitting of Tynwald, why an additional 51 agency children & families social workers were employed at a cost of £2,027,538 when the July 2011 Tynwald approved a Supplementary Vote of £498,000 to recruit an additional 10 children & families social workers?
Further questions from The Speaker, Steve Rodan, reveal that an external assessment into the department was conducted at the end of 2012 and it would appear that details of the results have not been divulged to Tynwald.
What is going on in children’s services? They employ (import?) huge amounts of social workers to deal with the predictable increase in referrals? Without consulting Tynwald or notifying the court of a phenomenal increase in required funding?
It seems that we always have enough funds for surveillance and monitoring.
Free as they sweet mountain air? I don’t think so.