The government has scrapped controversial plans to allow councils to apply for exemptions from children’s social care law, the Department for Education has confirmed.
Ministers have agreed to remove ‘exemption’ clauses from the Children and Social Work Bill, which is currently going through parliament.
The measures, which the government styled as ‘academy style freedoms’ for social care, would have allowed councils to seek exemptions from statutory duties for up to six years.
The aim, the government said, was to allow local authorities to test new ways of working in children’s services. But more than 50 organisations opposed the plans, including the British Association of Social Workers, Unison, the Care Leavers’ Association, and children’s rights charity Article 39. The groups argued exemptions would erode vital legal protections for children.
According to reports, education secretary Justine Greening agreed to back down on the proposals after an intervention by Lord Laming – the chair of the Victoria Climbie inquiry.
Greening is understood to have agreed to support an amendment tabled by Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck that will see the exemption clause deleted from the bill when it returns to parliament next week.
The climb-down comes weeks after Professor Eileen Munro, who was regularly cited by ministers as a supporter of the proposals, withdrew her support. Munro said she had concluded the exemption plans presented a “serious danger”.