Cafcass FSW's and Budgets

Tony Ryan made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

The request was partially successful.

From: Tony Ryan

18 May 2012

Dear Department for Education,

The following quotes are taken from the Cafcass website, and I am
addressing my questions to you as government sponsor and funder of
Cafcass.

Cafcass Board Meeting Minutes 10th February 2012

“these can be offset by underspending elsewhere in the budget and
have been further mitigated by the allocation of £1.4m additional
funding by the Department to be used by the end of the current
financial year”.

“The Chief Executive confirmed that there is no need to hold an
extra Board meeting in March as, based on current planning
assumptions about the level of the 2012/13 budget, there appears
now to be no need to meet to consider an additional savings package
for next year”.

Q.1 What was the allocation of the additional £1.4 million meant to
provide for in 2011/2012. Why did Cafcass need this additional
funding.

Q.2 Is Cafcass' budget now exempt from the imposition of any
further cuts including efficiency savings during the lifetime of
this parliament.

Over 50 Cafcass Family Support Worker posts have been deleted and
the staff made redundant in the 2011/12 financial year. These are
frontline posts and are therefore frontline cuts to the service
normally available to the courts and service users, including
children and young people.

In a FOI answer in February 2012 Cafcass said:

"Direct work in private law cases will need to be
undertaken on the whole by commissioned services. The budget for
those services is a separate budget from Government and that is
being maintained next year".

Q.3 Is the DfE and Cafcass effecting a transfer of work, which
still exists,from the public to the private sector, given that the
majority of direct work in private law cases was undertaken by
Cafcass FSW's who are apparently not elegible for TUPE conditions
to apply.

Q.4 How many of the redundant FSW postholders been found suitable
alternative employment.

Q.5 Have a comparison of unit costs been undertaken in relation to
that provided by a Cafcass FSW compared with a that provided by a
partner agency, to determine whether there are genuine savings
under the Value For Money requirements of publically funded
organisations.

If so can I have a copy of any reports/memos etc that address this
issue or have contributed to the decision to transfer direct work
to external agencies.

Yours faithfully,

Tony Ryan

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From: Tony Ryan

21 May 2012

Dear Department for Education,
As part of my previous request, can the following additional
information be made available to me please....Can I have the
financial breakdown for the government funding of partnership
working commissioned by Cafcass...for each financial year from 2007
onwards....and the breakdown to include how much money is allotted
to each task....eg how much for Contact Centres...how much for
direct work etc....and what information did DfE receive and from
whom....in order to set these budgets

Yours faithfully,

Tony Ryan

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Department for Education

21 May 2012

Dear Mr Ryan

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2012/0029300.

Thank you

Department for Education
Public Communications Unit
Tel: 0370 000 2288

Web: www.education.gov.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/educationgovuk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

Dear Department for Education,
As part of my previous request, can the following additional
information be made available to me please....Can I have the
financial breakdown for the government funding of partnership
working commissioned by Cafcass...for each financial year from 2007
onwards....and the breakdown to include how much money is allotted
to each task....eg how much for Contact Centres...how much for
direct work etc....and what information did DfE receive and from
whom....in order to set these budgets

Yours faithfully,

Tony Ryan

show quoted sections

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Department for Education

31 May 2012

Dear Mr Ryan,
 
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 18 May
2012. You requested information on Cafcass, its budgets and spending on
contact services.

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(“the Act”).

A copy of the information which can be disclosed is supplied below in
answer to each of your questions.

Q1. What was the allocation of the additional £1.4 million meant to
provide for in 2011/2012? Why did Cafcass need this additional funding?

A1. Demand for care cases for the first 7 months in the last financial
year was 10% above the same period in the year before. The effect of
steadily rising demand over the last three years is that, while there were
11,000 children involved in care cases at the end of 2008, there were
19,000 children by the end of 2011 (figures from Ministry of Justice).

Cafcass wrote to Ministers in the Department for Education (DfE) in late
2011 to ask for more funding to assist in meeting this unprecedented
demand. The Department agreed to provide an additional £1m funding to help
ease the pressure on frontline services for children. An additional
£400,000 was also given to meet an essential need relating to IT costs
falling in 2011-12 which would otherwise have added further pressure to
the 2012-13 budget.

Q2. Is Cafcass' budget now exempt from the imposition of any further cuts
including efficiency savings during the lifetime of this parliament?

A2. The DfE does not hold this information as no decision about future
funding has yet been made. However, in light of the current climate, all
Government spending is subject to regular review.

Q3. Is the DfE and Cafcass effecting a transfer of work, which still
exists, from the public to the private sector, given that the majority of
direct work in private law cases was undertaken by Cafcass FSW's who are
apparently not eligible for TUPE conditions to apply?

Q4. How many of the redundant FSW postholders been found suitable
alternative employment?

Q5. Have a comparison of unit costs been undertaken in relation to that
provided by a Cafcass FSW compared with a that provided by a partner
agency, to determine whether there are genuine savings under the Value For
Money requirements of publically funded organisations?

A3, 4, 5. The DfE is, as you point out, responsible for the sponsorship of
Cafcass. Cafcass is responsible for its own operational matters. As such,
the Department does not hold the information you requested since DfE does
not itself operate in the Family Courts or directly employ FSWs. I suggest
that you make a new request to Cafcass to see if they potentially hold
this information. Their contact details for FOI requests are:

[1][email address]

Q6. Can I have the financial breakdown for the government funding of
partnership working commissioned by Cafcass for each financial year from
2007 onwards and the breakdown to include how much money is allotted to
each task e.g. how much for Contact Centres how much for direct work etc
and what information did DfE receive and from whom in order to set these
budgets?

A6.  Cafcass annual budget, including budget for contact services can be
found in their annual reports, as published on the Cafcass website.

The annual reports also provide a high-level breakdown of how the budget
was spent on areas including staff expenditure and partnership working.
Since this is an operational matter, the Department does not hold these
detailed breakdowns on a task by task basis.

You can access these reports here:

[2]http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/publications/r...

I am also reproducing here the headline figures held by the Department
since 2007 as per your request:
 
o       2012/13 – Cafcass budget is £127.4mn. In addition Cafcass will
receive £1.9m for contact services.

o       2011/12 – Cafcass budget was £130mn of which £3.4mn was spent on
contact services.

o       2010/11 – Cafcass budget was £143.4mn of which £3.4mn was spent on
contact services.

o       2009/10 – Cafcass budget was £131.2mn of which £3.4mn was spent on
contact services.

o       2008/09 – Cafcass budget was £113.9mn of which £3.4mn was spent on
contact services.

o       2007/08 – Cafcass budget was £107mn of which £2.5mn was spent on
contact services. 

The Department sets the level of its own child contact services programme
budget and allocates this budget to Cafcass. These decisions are made by
Ministers as part of the normal spending review decisions. The Department
does not hold cost breakdowns within the Cafcass contact services budget.
This is a matter for Cafcass and you may like to follow up with them.

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If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an
independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request. 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Regards,

Charlotte Sowerbutts

Team Leader, Public Law Legislation,

Family Law and Relationship Support,

Department for Education

[email address]

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2012/0029300.

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References

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1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/publications/r...

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