Remain caring and become more effective

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Open letter to Hon M Quayle MHK

At a time when government has much less money than in the past and more VAT funding cuts may be on the way you plan to ask Tynwald for £498,000 more money to ‘deliver adequate children and family services’ at tomorrow’s sitting.

In April you committed to making savings in the department but now want extra money.

Despite this being the last Tynwald before the election your department should be exploring every way of saving, not spending, money.

Surely it is for Council of Ministers to sit round the table and hammer out who will do with less to find your requirement?

Could you perhaps find the money you want by cutting back some of the 52 full-time equivalents contract/consultants on the Social Care payroll (latest available figures to me)?

On the face of it the request to provide adequate services both looks noble and right.

I suggest the real reason you need more money is entirely of the department’s own making. It is the consequence of a complex bureaucratic structure which has been created.

One reads that the social services workload has increased an amazing 500 per cent through the courts in one year. This incurs even more cost and then involves those not on your payroll such as lawyers.

Why is all this happening?

It results from a ‘report anything – or you could be blamed’ culture. This culture has led to an enormous jump in ‘referrals’ in just one year and hence more people needed to service the system. I find it hard to believe that there has been a similar jump in child abuse/neglect in the same period.

Indeed, the Chief Constable’s Report 2010-11 reports only one single case of a child (under 16) suffering abuse/neglect.

This government, and the next, need to be looking at smarter ways of working efficiently that save money, not spend it unnecessarily.

Tynwald should look closely at the track record. If it rejects this request this would force a re-examination of the department’s management, accountability and its culture so it remains caring but becomes more effective.

We cannot afford to simply throw more people into a system whose growth appears uncontrolled.

Taxpaying voters are very uneasy about what the future may hold and we all recognise the island can no longer keep on spending as we used to.

Alan Croll

Douglas

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