Munro Brands Social Care Exemptions Plan 'Dangerous,' Withdraws Her Backing
Professor Eileen Munro has performed a u-turn on the 'innovation' plans in the upcoming Children and Social Work Bill, withdrawing her backing and saying they pose a 'serious danger.'
Munro, who published a landmark review of child protection in 2011, had backed the controversial plans, which would allow councils to seek exemptions from legal duties surrounding social care in order to test new ways of working.
She previously said that the exemptions would provide a good opportunity to means-test innovative new methods of providing social care, and was often cited by ministers as a key supporter of the government's strategy.
However, she has since sent a message to MPs withdrawing her support, instead encouraging the Department of Education to pursue a 'less ambitious but still useful reform' by amending more specific regulations and laws that are 'blocking innovation.'
She said: "I have been reading the debates in Hansard and the submissions about the Social Work and Children Bill.
"I've also been meeting with some of those who oppose the bill and I have come to the conclusion that the power to have exemption from primary and secondary legislation creates more dangers than the benefits it might produce.
"I saw the exemption as allowing the opportunity to test new means of achieving the will of Parliament expressed in the Children Act and related legislation. The projects would be in the spirit of the legislation and would not override the will of parliament.
"While I understand and respect the motivation of the current government, there is a serious danger in having such wide-reaching powers in statute.
"Some future Secretary of State might use them in ways that are completely contrary to the current intentions and consequently subvert the will of Parliament."
The exemption clause had been restored to the bill in a Commons vote a few weeks earlier after it had originally been removed by the peers.
You can subscribe to our monthly 'Social Work Newsletter' email to receive more stories like this one directly to your inbox. Register here to be on our mailing list!