Bedfordshire and Luton Council for Voluntary Youth Services Voluntary Works - A consortium of umbrella voluntary organisations providing a wide range of services across Bedfordshire & Luton

Home About Us News & Events Membership Contact Us

Find a local group

Regional & National

1) Addressing the needs of young people experiencing depression and substance misuse problems

This briefing from NCB (National Children's Bureau) summarises key findings from a project conducted by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) to explore how health and children's services are responding to the needs of young people who are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, depression combined with substance misuse problems. Click here to download. (21.10)

2) Big changes ahead for Housing benefit claimants

Click here to view information on Housing Benefit Welfare Reform. From next April claimants in social housing will have their housing benefit reduced if they live in a property too large for their deemed needs - known in the press as the Bedroom Tax. Click here to find out more. (4.9)

3) Bristol youth services outsourced in £22m deal

A major reorganisation of young people’s services in Bristol has resulted in £22m of contracts being awarded for provision over the next five years. Bristol Council hopes the new-look service will improve services including advice and guidance. The new service, known as Bristol Youth Links, will see two consortia – Learning Partnership West and Creative Youth Network – provide services including youth groups, play, advice and guidance, and support to help young people volunteer across seven areas of the city. A single consortium led by Bristol Drugs Project will also provide additional city-wide provision, including counselling, alcohol and drug prevention, work to reduce teen pregnancies, and support for groups with particular needs, such as disabilities. The changes will see around 70 council staff transfer to new providers.

The council’s in-house team currently numbers 90 but will be trimmed down to six senior practitioners, three relationships and community workers and up to eight youth and community professionals. The remaining in-house team will work with children and young people and providers to check on the quality, drive improvement and monitor targets. The winners of a further contract, for a “virtual youth service”, offering online information, advice and guidance will be announced in January next year. Learning Partnership West's consortium includes 1625 Independent People, Barnardo's, Rehab Jobfit and TBG Learning. Creative Youth Network's consortium includes Bristol Playbus, Young Bristol and Kids Company. Bristol Drugs Project has formed a consortium with Brook, The Princes Trust, Off the Record and housing support charity 1625 Independent People. (6.10)

4) Benefit cuts 'will push families of disabled children into debt'

Up to 100,000 families with a disabled child will be worse off under Universal Credit, forcing many to cut back on food expenditure and pushing others into debt, an inquiry has found. The inquiry calls on government to mitigate the impact of benefit changes. A joint report by the Children’s Society, Disability Rights UK and Citizens Advice Bureau, found that support for some families will be cut in half under Universal Credit – to £28 a week. Meanwhile disabled lone parents will be affected by the loss of the severe disability premium, which was traditionally used to top up income support payments, potentially increasing burdens on young carers.

And the removal of financial support for disabled people who face extra costs in work could prevent them being able to take up employment, with a potential knock-on effect on children in the family. The inquiry found that of the estimated 100,000 families with a disabled child who are set to receive less under Universal Credit, two thirds said they would have to cut back on food spending, and half said it would get them into more debt. One in ten said they may find it difficult to afford their home. The report urges government to protect children that stand to be affected by the cuts and calls for additional support towards the cost of childcare for families with disabled children. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who led the inquiry, said many households with disabled people are already struggling to keep their heads above water. (21.10)

5) Actress teams up with the police service to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation

A new training film to help front-line police officers spot the early signs of group-associated grooming, and support vulnerable children being sexually exploited, was launched yesterday. The Association of Chief Police Offices (ACPO) and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has teamed up with Shona McGarty, the BBC ‘EastEnders’ actress who plays the character ‘Whitney’, to create the new film, which is available from today at and on CEOP’s You Tube channel The 20 minute film, made with the help of Asset TV and Siyonatech, uses a storyline of ‘Whitney’ to explore how children and young people can be made vulnerable to grooming and sexual abuse, highlighting the grooming and manipulation techniques used by abusers.

Funded by the NPIA, the film was created in response to one of the recommendations made by the ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ report. The report, by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) focuses on group-associated child sexual abuse, which has also been called ‘street grooming’ in media reporting of high profile prosecutions (1). The Office of the Children’s Commissioner in England is currently undertaking a two-year study on ‘Group and Gang Associated Child Sexual Abuse’ which is due to report next month on their interim findings. (3.11)

6) Child Sex Abuse: 2,409 Victims Confirmed In England

  • Thousands of children each year are being sexually exploited by gangs and groups in England, according to an interim report.
  • Figures published midway through a two-year inquiry, which was ordered by the Government, found 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011.
  • A further 16,500 children were at "high risk" of sexual exploitation between April 2010 and March 2011, the Office of the Children's Commissioner probe revealed.
  • The report - entitled I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world - comes after nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 in Rochdale with drink and drugs were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court in May

These are in response to The Report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. Click here to download. (25.11)

7) Clinical Commissioners Guide to the Voluntary Sector

This guide, published by ACEVO and the NHS Alliance, is intended to support closer and more effective working between clinical commissioners and voluntary organisations. It explores models for successful collaboration between commissioners and sector organisations in the new landscape of clinical commissioning and developing provider markets. Click here to download. (20.11)

8) City and Guilds Ways into Work Views of Young People Report

This report suggests that the llink between education and employment is central to tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The report contains some views of young people and is a useful read. Click here to download. (15.6)

9) Childcare vouchers and provider tax breaks among proposals to childcare commission

The government should broaden access to childcare vouchers to ease financial pressures on families and offer tax breaks to early years providers, according to leading childcare groups. The Daycare Trust, Family and Parenting Institute and National Childminding Association (NCMA) have all called on the government’s childcare commission to do more to help parents. In a joint statement the Daycare Trust and Family and Parenting Institute, which announced their intention to merge last month, said the commission must urgently explore how all parents can access childcare vouchers regardless of whether or not their employer offers them.

The charities also want the voucher scheme to extend to the self-employed, warning that 95 per cent of parents do not currently access vouchers, despite it being the most popular form of childcare support offered by employers. The submission to the government’s consultation also said schools must play a greater role in delivering childcare and that parents should receive more information at a national level on what their childcare entitlements are, regardless of where they live. Meanwhile the NCMA wants more to be done to address the problem of parents losing the majority of their wage to childcare costs. The association said that instead of focussing on reducing regulation in early years settings, the commission should be looking at the wider funding system for childcare, to explore the role played by local authorities, Ofsted, providers and parents, and to see if money is being spent wisely by government. The NCMA also wants to see registered providers offered tax breaks and more encouragement for settings to deliver wraparound and holiday childcare. (4.9)

10) Criminal Records Bureau Is Changing

There will be some important changes to CRB starting from the 1st December 2012.

1. Change of name

The CRB and ISA will merge on the 1st December 2012 to form one body which will be called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The service to its customers for criminal records checks will stay the same. All documentation you receive from DBS in relation to criminal records checks will now refer to DBS instead of CRB.

2. New disclosure application form

The current CRB application form is being replaced with a revised DBS application form. DBS will continue to process the current CRB form until the 28th February 2013, after this date they will only process DBS application forms. Any stocks you have of the current application form should be securely destroyed. Click here to download a new application form.

3. New DBS continuation sheet

The current CRB continuation sheet has been replaced with a revised version which can be viewed here. Please note that these should be printed as a double sided document and not printed as two separate sheets. The DBS now has a section on their website to help prepare for the launch of DBS, which will be updated regularly with the latest news.

As from 10.9.12 the definition for regulated activity has been changed for individuals working with children and adults. Please ensure that any disclosure applications you submit are eligible under the revised definitions. The current guide 'Changes to disclosure and barring: What you need to know' is available to view here. (8.12)

11) Charity Commission Launches Audio Guides to Help Trustees

The Charity Commission has launched the first in a new series of audio podcasts which are designed to help charity trustees in England and Wales develop their understanding of their duties under charity law. The first episode is now available to download from the Commission's website. It explains what trustees need to do to protect their charity against fraud. The 10-minute programme, which is presented by the Commission's Head of Investigations and Enforcement, Michelle Russell, and Head of Action Fraud, Jamie Johnson, also lets trustees know what they should do if their charity does fall victim to fraud. The new podcasts come as part of the Commission's wider programme of proactive engagement with trustees, aimed at helping trustees develop self-reliance and improve their compliance with charity law. The podcasts will complement the Commission's existing communication channels, which include a quarterly trustee newsletter, Twitter, and RSS feeds. The podcasts will be available from the Charity Commission's website or on YouTube. (21.10)

12) Conservative conference: £10bn in welfare cuts 'disastrous' for families

Government plans to make an additional £10bn in cuts to the welfare budget risk having a disastrous impact on children and families, a charity has warned. Family Action has accused George Osborne of "scraping the barrel for cuts". Chancellor George Osborne outlined the proposals at the Conservative party conference today, reiterating his desire to cut the deficit. He suggested money could be saved by limiting housing benefit for under-25s, limiting the number of children in a family that would be supported on benefits, and making benefit increases lower than the rate of inflation.

The additional £10bn in cuts by 2016/17, which come on top of £18bn announced in 2010, have come in for criticism from the charity Family Action. Rhian Beynon, head of policy and campaigns at the organisation, said many families are already struggling to make ends meet, heat their homes and put food on the table. “Plans to curb child tax credit and below-inflation rises in welfare support will put further pressure on family finances which are already in meltdown,” she added. “George Osborne is scraping the barrel for cuts that do not make good economic sense. Removing housing benefit from under-25s will make it even more difficult for hard-pressed young people to find employment and move on. "It is not the answer. Neither is punishing children because a parent is out of work. (14.10)

13) Early Intervention Grant will increase, insists Gove

The Education Secretary has defended claims the government is cutting the Early Intervention Grant, insisting that funding for councils will in fact increase. Local early intervention projects are concerned about future funding. Michael Gove argued that overall funding for early intervention would rise from £2.2bn in 2011/12 to £2.5bn in 2014/15 during a House of Commons debate yesterday, when MPs from all parties demanded answers about the future of the grant. Graham Stuart, the Conservative chair of the education select committee, asked Gove to clarify whether government intended to abolish the Early Intervention Grant, and how it planned to maintain quality of services in early years provision. Gove replied by saying that government would announce more information on the issue in the near future. “The Early Intervention Grant money has never been ringfenced and will remain available to local authorities, which have statutory obligations to provide not just children’s centres but particular services,” said Gove.

“We will be announcing more steps in due course to ensure that money is spent even more effectively in the future.” Labour MP Graham Allen, who has authored two government-backed reports on early intervention, challenged Gove to explain what the government intends to do with the £150m it announced it would hold back from the grant in 2013/14 and 2014/15. “The £150 million to which he [Allen] refers is money that will go to local authorities in order to support the sorts of evidence-based interventions I know he has done so much to champion,” said Gove. The Speaker of the House of Commons had to call for order during the debate, after shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg asked Gove to be “honest” about the allocation of money from the grant to fund free entitlement places for disadvantaged two-year-olds. Gove responded by repeating his earlier statement that the grant was not being reduced to fund the early years entitlement. In late September, a document revealed central government plans to retain £150m from the Early Intervention Grant over the next two years, while transferring the rest of the money to mainstream local authority funding and the Dedicated Schools Grant. (3.11)

14) Early intervention 'reduces demand for child protection services'

Investment in early intervention is reducing demand for child protection services by up to 30 per cent in some local authorities, while other areas struggle to cope with huge increases in demand, research by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has found. Debbie Jones says "whole system reform" is necessary to deal with increasing child protection demand. The third phase of the organisation’s Safeguarding Pressures research found that although there has been an overall increase in demand nationally for child protection and care services, there is “significant variation” at local level. While some authorities have experienced increases in demand for support of up to 100 per cent, others are experiencing decreases of 30 per cent or more.

The research found that the authorities that had seen a decrease in child protection activity attributed it to increasing early help services, better multi-agency working and finding children permanent placements faster. Debbie Jones, ADCS president, said the research shows that services for protecting children must be viewed as part of a “wider system”, ranging from early help through to permanent homes for children in care. “It is necessary to consider the whole system, rather than piecemeal reform, in order to successfully manage budgets to cope with increasing pressure,” she said. David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said the research shows that early intervention can have a “significant impact” on safeguarding pressures.

He added that government plans to top-slice £150m from funding used to support disadvantaged children and families in each of the next two financial years risks “pushing councils into a cycle” where they are forced to cut non-statutory services, which will in turn, increase pressure on statutory services. “We fear that a reduction in early intervention will inevitably lead to increased demand for more costly longer term or life-long interventions,” he said. “Early intervention not only leads to long-term cost savings for councils but also helps families to help themselves.” (2.11)

15) ESF Families programme

The DWP ESF Families Programme will move families closer to and into sustained employment. The programme is designed to complement existing services that take place within a Local Authority. Through voluntary participation on the Families Programme we will support families and individuals to break the welfare dependency cycle, whilst reducing the wider impacts of intergenerational worklessness. The programme has been designed with a family-centred approach. The provision will last a maximum of 52 weeks for each participant and will deliver a series of interventions to progress participants closer to employment. These are known as Progress Measures.

Who can benefit from the Programme?

  • The focus  is on sustaining and enabling families through  providing support to access to inclusive services;
  • Families who need additional support, guidance or interventions to maintain the expected standard of stability, health and development;
  • Families who need additional support, guidance or intervention to prevent a significant impairment to their health development and life chances. This may be as a result of an event that seriously impacts on a family's wellbeing. The goal is to divert a family from a route that is likely to result in an adverse outcome, or pose a risk to an individual/others.

Not appropriate where:

  • Families who have safety needs where services are required to promote their protection;
  • Families whose behaviour is unsafe, dangerous to themselves or others.

Who delivers the Families Programme in Bedford and Central Bedfordshire?

Reed in Partnership is the prime contractor for the DWP ESF Families Programme in the East of England. The Learning Partnership in conjunction with Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council are delivering the Families Programme in Bedford and across Central Bedfordshire. The Families Programme is delivered through a strong partnership of community, voluntary and private sector organisations to engage with individuals and families to support them in getting back to work. Click here to view the programme delivery model.

Who can refer onto the Programme?

Teams within Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils, Schools, Colleges, Family Learning Providers, Housing Associations, Voluntary and Community organisations. Click to download an individual or family identification form. Click here to download a contact consent form.

Approving referrals

Individual referrals will be approved where they meet the DWP eligibility criteria below and where the Learning Partnership and the Local Authority agree that the individual will benefit from the programme by successfully completing 3 Progress Measures to improve their likelihood of moving back into the labour market and finding employment.

Who is eligible?  

  • Individuals must be a resident of Bedford Borough or Central Bedfordshire Councils;
  • Individuals must be over 16 years of age;
  • Individuals must be a legal resident in the UK and able to take paid employment in an EU member state, and must not have a ‘Job Under Offer’;
  • Either no one in the family is working; or the family has a history of worklessness across generations;
  • At least one family member should be on a working age benefit* - the passporting member;
  • The passporting member 'passports' other family members into the Programme but does not have to participate, the passporting  member has to be the ‘main claimant’ if they are part of a joint claim; 
  • Individuals must have a National Insurance Number to qualify;
  • Individuals can not undertake any other welfare to work based programme e.g. the Work Programme;
  • The definition of what constitutes a family is determined by the referring body

ALL referrals must comply with these requirements.

What the Learning Partnership will offer the client?

  • Dedicated Personal Adviser to support the family and individuals throughout the programme;
  • Individual tailored action plan:  individuals will have an assessment to indentify barriers, goals and move them forward towards sustained employment;
  • Specialist support: each individual and family will have access to community activities to reduce social isolation, skills support, mentoring to improve parenting and/or manage health conditions, housing advice and ESOL according to the individual’s needs;
  • Health and Well-being Team Support to identify a health-related barrier to employment and access specialist physical and mental health support;
  • Family Better Off Calculation to calculate how much families will be better off financially if they enter into employment;
  • Pre work support: Information, Advice and Guidance; Job Search, practical work related activity, access to managed vacancies, voluntary work, work tasters, work experience;
  • In work support: career development, in work mediation, job coaching and specialist provision.

16) Eligibility criteria for Youth Contract under review

The government is considering changing the criteria that determines which 16- and 17-year-olds are eligible for support through the Youth Contract, a Department for Education official has revealed. Professionals have warned that the eligibility criteria for Youth Contract support are too restrictive. The £1bn Youth Contract scheme is predominantly designed to get 18- to 24-year-olds into work. But £126m funding has been designated to support 16- and 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neet). To qualify for support from that part of the initiative, young people must be afflicted by a range of factors that put them at greater risk of long-term disengagement from employment and training, and must also have no GCSEs at grades A* to C.

But professionals have warned that the criteria are too restrictive, and prevent some of the most hard to reach young people from accessing help. Under the Youth Contract scheme for 16- and 17-year-olds, the government has appointed a range of approved voluntary and private sector providers to support young people across 19 regional areas. The providers will share up to £126m funding on a payment-by-results basis over the next three years, should they successfully help young people into work or training. The Education Funding Agency is an executive agency of the DfE. (25.11)

17) Extension of duty for Careers Guidance in schools: Next steps

The Government has decided to extend the duty down to year 8 and up to 16-18 year olds in schools. As schools are already subject to the careers duty in respect of pupils in years 9-11, this will be an extension of the school’s existing careers programme. The main focus in year 8 will be work to raise aspirations and improve motivation where the school considers this will benefit individual pupils. Alongside this, all year 8 pupils should have access to information and advice about locally available opportunities such as University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools. For sixth form students, access to independent and impartial careers guidance should focus strongly on post-18 options. The best schools already provide this. There is no requirement to buy in a particular type of careers guidance and there is a good deal of discretion for schools to determine the right model for them. An updated version of the statutory guidance on careers will be published in March 2013 to support schools in implementing the extended duty from September 2013.

The Government has decided to extend an equivalent requirement to 16-18 year olds in colleges through funding agreements. We think it is important that this age group has access to independent and impartial careers guidance, especially to help them when they wish to consider other 16-18 options. But we want to extend the requirement to colleges in a way that recognises their status as independently constituted bodies. We will continue to consult with the further education sector as we take this work forward with a view to introducing the new requirement from September 2013. (8.12)

18) Families face choice between food and heating, warn charities

Families on benefits could be forced to choose between paying for food and heating, as a result of measures announced in the autumn statement, children's charities have warned.  Children and young people's organisations warned that families would be hit by the real-terms cuts to working-age benefits and tax credits. Jobseeker's Allowance, income support and child tax credit are among the working-age benefits that will increase by just one per cent over the next three years, equating to a real-terms cut, given that inflation is currently running at more than two per cent. The Children’s Society suggested the one per cent cap would mean an unemployed, lone parent with one child and no other income will only receive about £4 more each month after housing costs in 2015. Child benefit, which is currently frozen, will rise by one per cent from April 2014 for two years – representing an overall rise of two per cent over five years by 2015.

The Chancellor George Osborne meanwhile announced that carers' and disability benefits, including the disability elements of tax credits, would be increased in line with inflation. Disabled children’s charity Contact a Family welcomed the alignment of carers' and disability benefits with inflation, but warned that families with disabled children would be hit by the one per cent cap on other benefits. “Families with disabled children are more likely to be on lower incomes due to the difficulties of working and caring and they are also more likely to be claiming a range of benefits across the system,” said Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family. Family Action criticised Osborne for not doing enough to help families, and warned that his decisions would store up problems for the future. “The biggest investment we can make in reducing future spending on prisons, health and social services in the future is intervening early in the lives of family and children to address disadvantage and poverty now," said Helen Dent, chief executive of Family Action. (8.12)

19) Hunt outlines priorities for children's health

Jeremy Hunt has pledged to tackle childhood obesity and improve services for disabled children during his first public address as Health Secretary outside of the Conservative Party Conference. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was committed to the Children and Young People's Health Outcomes strategy. Hunt omitted children’s health from his formal speech at the National Children and Adult Services Conference, but gave some of his views on the subject when prompted by delegates during a question and answers session. As well as confirming his commitment to the children and young people's health outcomes strategy, launched by his predecessor, Hunt said care for disabled children and obesity were priorities. Hunt raised the issue of obesity again when a representative of the NSPCC asked how he would ensure government follows an integrated approach to children’s health and social care.

“The school games, which was a project that I set up in my last job, is only happening in about a third of the schools across the country,” said Hunt. “It’s the two thirds of schools that haven’t wanted to be involved in the school games that will be the ones to have the highest proportion of overweight and obese children. That’s a very good example of why we need to have a much closer working relationship than perhaps has happened in the past.” Responding to a question about the special educational needs reforms, Hunt admitted government must do more to integrate services for disabled children. “I was formerly shadow minister for disabled people, I did a lot of work in the area of disabled children and I know the lack of integration of health, social care and benefits is an absolute nightmare for families for disabled children – we need to do a million times better than we are,” he said. Following his speech, Rachel Heywood, lead member for children and families at Lambeth Council said she was “concerned” by Hunt’s lack of focus on children’s health and the fact that he didn't mention children in his speech, but only when prompted by delegates. (2.11)

20) Help for separating parents at their fingertips as new web app launches. A third of children now live in separated families

For the first time, the 300,000 families undergoing separation every year in Britain will be able to get FREE online advice tailored to their needs. The Government has yesterday (Thursday) launched an easy-to-use web app, called "Sorting out Separation", featuring an innovative and interactive tool, which offers parents personalised advice and shows where they can access further support. Around five million parents have gone through separation and the new figures show over four million children now live in separated families - equal to a third of children in Britain. However, a YouGov poll out yesterday commissioned by the DWP reveals that more than half of parents (52%) find it hard to access help and support they need when they separate. Sorting out Separation is a one-stop-shop for any parent going through a separation. It covers everything from how to avoid a separation to coping with the emotional impact of breaking up, accessing legal or housing support and arranging child maintenance. The web app will be hosted by a range of leading family websites, starting with the likes of Relate, National Family Mediation, Mumsnet,, Gransnet and Wikivorce.

Other findings from the new YouGov survey show:

  • 39% of parents didn't access any professional support when they separated from their partners, of whom 25% said it was because they couldn't find the right help or support or felt embarrassed
  • Of those parents who did seek professional help, 27% of them felt they received conflicting advice.

The Department for Work and Pensions worked closely with the Department for Education and Ministry of Justice in developing the new service, in conjunction with the voluntary and community sector. It forms part of a £20m fund announced earlier this year to help support separating parents. (30.11)

21) LGA chief warns shrinking council budgets threaten early intervention

Funding pressures are forcing councils to invest in child protection services at the expense of early intervention, the chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) children and young people board has warned. Simmonds says reducing bureaucracy and duplication alone will not save enough money to protect services. Writing in CYP Now as part of an exclusive special report on children’s services funding, David Simmonds warned that reducing bureaucracy and duplication alone would not save enough money to protect preventative services. “We must not allow the debate about council funding to concentrate on efficiency savings alone,” he said. “This won’t provide the answer to all our funding pressures. Children’s services departments are facing growing pressures in demand with the mini baby boom of the past decade, rising referrals to children’s social services and record numbers of court requests to take children into care. Simmonds urged central government to enter into a “sensible and realistic conversation” with councils and residents about which children and young people’s services can be sustained within the funding that will be available in future.

“The money available to fund all council services aside from waste and social care is likely to shrink by 90 per cent in cash terms by 2020,” he said. Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, warned that the volume of work facing councils is increasing at a time when “society also has rising expectations on the quality of services provided, whether it is services for those with special educational needs, in children’s homes or the family justice system”. “It is right that we should have the highest ambition for the quality of services, but we must also acknowledge that such improvements come at a price and take time to implement,” she said. “The special educational needs proposals are a particular cause for concern as they increase what parents expect the system can provide, without any realistic prospect of controlling the costs of such provision. The adversarial system in which parents and local authorities tussle over care packages will only worsen if expectations rise while budgets shrink.” (3.11)

22) Mental health services failing young people with autism and learning disabilities

Mental health services must do more to meet the needs of children and young people with autism and learning disabilities, a coalition of mental health trusts has found. The briefing recommends changes to mental health services to accommodate people with autism. According to data collected by the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network (MHN), people with learning disabilities or autism frequently find it harder to access services, despite having higher mental health needs than the general population. In response, the Mental Health Network has launched a best practice briefing for providers and commissioners of services to make sure this group is not disadvantaged.

Recommendations in the briefing include a proposal to introduce routine mental health assessments as part of GP health checks for people with autism or learning disabilities, and the suggestion that information about medication and treatments should be provided in alternative formats. The Department of Health commissioned the National Development Team for inclusion to conduct the study, which involved interviews with more than 100 service users, family carers and professionals, and a review of existing research. Public sector agencies are required to make “reasonable adjustments” to facilities to ensure provision is universally accessible, under the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Social Care Act 2008. Click here to download. (25.11)

23) Minister to investigate 'unfair' cuts to voluntary sector youth services

A government minister has pledged to probe allegations that local authorities are breaching statutory guidance by making disproportionate cuts to youth charities. Speaking at a conference staged by UK Youth, the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), and Leap, junior local government minister Don Foster said claims that councils are not adhering to guidance is a “cause for concern”. His comments came after a delegate, NCVYS trustee Kevin Curley, asked Foster why the government had issued guidance on protecting charities against cuts, but failed to take action against councils flouting it.

The Best Value Statutory Guidance was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in September last year. it called on local authorities not to pass on larger cuts to the voluntary and community sector than they are subject to themselves. After being told that the guidance was “not being observed” across the country, Foster admitted that the same issue had been raised with him several times. Timpson added that the British Youth Council (BYC) would be funded by government for a further two years, stressing the importance of young people scrutinising both national and local government. "The national scrutiny group (set up by BYC) has been able to interrogate ministers including myself," he said. "I don't think there is any better sign of how seriously the government takes youth voice, as having young people at the heart of the government regime." (30.11)

24) Nice issues guidelines on children's social and emotional wellbeing

Health professionals are being encouraged to put social and emotional wellbeing at the heart of their work with vulnerable children, under new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice). Nice wants health workers to provide children up to the age of five with better social and emotional care. The guidance, which emphasises the damaging nature of disadvantage in a child’s early years, says that health visitors and midwives should offer a series of intensive home visits to parents in need of extra support, such as families affected by drug or alcohol misuse, mental health problems, criminality or relationship problems.

It also suggests that the social and emotional wellbeing of vulnerable children must be addressed in all local health and wellbeing board strategies, and says that local health and wellbeing plans should include outcomes on ensuring healthy child development and “readiness for school”, and for preventing mental health and behavioural problems. The guidelines also say that all councils must provide vulnerable children with high quality, part-time or full-time childcare outside the home, and access to the free entitlement where appropriate. Professor Mike Kelly, Nice’s director of public health, added: “While most parents offer love and stability to their children, regardless of their personal circumstances, in some cases, children living in challenging environments can experience emotional and behavioural problems. These can have a life-long, negative effect on their future health and wellbeing." Simon Antrobus, chief executive of charity Addaction, said a “whole family” approach was the best way to tackle disadvantage. (3.11)

25) NCMA to change name and broaden membership

The National Childminding Association (NCMA) is to admit members from professions beyond childminding from spring next year, the organisation has announced. Nursery workers will be able to become members of the NCMA from spring 2013. The NCMA will also change its name to the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years from January in anticipation of the change. NCMA said its decision to represent more individual early years workers and adopt the new title followed consultation with more than 1,500 existing members, who wanted to raise the status of childminding as a profession.

It also spoke to unaffiliated nannies, nursery workers and pre-school providers to determine whether they would like to be represented by the body. In a joint statement, co-chief executives Liz Bayram and Catherine Farrell at NCMA said the changes marked “another significant step on our journey to become a standard-setting professional association for the sector”. NCMA said increasing its membership would enable the organisation to provide a stronger collective voice, and that it planned to offer new members the same services including insurance, legal advice and guidance. NCMA began as a membership organisation for childminders in 1977 and began admitting nannies to the body from 2004. (25.11)

26) Payment by Results: Getting to grips

An article from Compact Voice on NCVO's discussion pages looks at what Payment by Results is, how it relates to the Compact and some of the challenges and opportunities it presents for voluntary and community organisations. 'Getting to grips with Payment by Results. Click here to read on.(14.9)

27) Parental alcohol misuse ‘more damaging than drugs’, warns children's commissioner

Parental alcohol misuse damages more children’s lives than illegal drug use, a report by the children’s commissioner has warned. One third of children in the UK live with at least one parent who is a binge drinker, according to the report. Research cited in the report, based on more than 150 sources of literature, found that one in three children in the UK live with at least one parent who is a binge drinker. One fifth – or more than 2.5 million children – live with a "hazardous" drinker, and around 79,000 babies under one year old is parented by someone classified as a "harmful" drinker, putting their safety and health and wellbeing at risk. The report found that the children and young people of parents affected by drinking want society to take a more serious attitude towards alcohol.

Interviews with four focus groups of eight- to 20-year-olds involved with parental alcohol misuse support groups, revealed that young people would like to see a more targeted approach to alcohol misuse from government and local authorities, akin to that used to reduce smoking and illegal drug use. Click here to download. (14.9)

28) 'Perfect Storms': an analysis of the operating conditions for the CYPF VCS

This report from Children England offers a ‘big picture’ market analysis of the position of voluntary sector organisations delivering services to vulnerable children and families locally, and illustrates the interdependent nature of the challenges they and their local statutory partners face. Children England believe that the many previous reports, including some of their own, detailing the extent of cuts to various public and charitable funding streams provide a true but only partial picture, and in order to develop cross-sector solutions to doing more with less, a more sophisticated analysis of the nature of supply and demand dynamics for services supporting vulnerable children young people and families is needed. Perfect Storms is their contribution to building that analysis and is intended to stimulate debate and refine our understanding, leading to solutions, though engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. Click here to download the report and a summary briefing. Children England would very much welcome all comments, reactions and contributions to the debate which can be sent to Nick Davies at (21.9)

29) Physical activity in the early years

Created by British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC), these new fact sheets on physical activity and the under-fives are ideal for practitioners who require facts and figures relating to physical activity in the early years. Click here to find out more. (21.10)

30) Public Health Resources Library

This resource is great for ordering leaflets etc. Please click here for more information. (29.9)

31) Reduce the Risk - A FREE App designed to support victims of Domestic Abuse

Reduce the Risk shows how to recognise the signs of abuse either in your own relationship or in that of someone close to you, how to keep safe whilst living with an abuser and what to do once you've left. It also provides contact details for local and national support agencies.

Reduce the Risk contains:

  • Definitions of domestic abuse
  • Key statistics
  • How to recognise abuse
  • An unhealthy relationship check list
  • How you can try to keep safe whilst living with an abuser
  • How to leave abusive relationships
  • It also contains information on how friends and family can support people living in an unsafe relationship

Reduce the Risk was developed in assoc. with Lincolnshire Integrated Domestic Abuse Services (LIDAS). Click here to download the app to your phone. (14.10)

32) Safer Future Communities: Newsflash: Youth Charter for PCCs

A group of young people, supported by Safer Future Communities partner NCVYS, have produced a Youth Charter for Police and Crime Commissioners. The charter was developed in consultation with over 150 other young people across England and Wales, and focuses on five pledges which it asks PCC candidates to make:

  • To make themselves accessible to young people and provide appropriate ways for young people to express their concerns to the PCC
  • To treat all young people as citizens, valuing their interests and opinions as much as any other group in the community
  • To provide an equal platform for all members of the community, including minorities and those who are marginalised
  • To establish a way of meaningful representation of young people’s views
  • To use their influence as Police and Crime Commissioner to support the police force to engage positively with all young people

The Youth Charter is published online at Organisations have already begun using the Youth Charter as the focus for positive conversations with PCC candidates about youth crime and involving young people. You can support the Youth Charter by Encouraging PCC candidates to sign up to the Charter at (21.10)

33) Single-parent families in poverty to be 'worst hit' by Universal Credit

Universal Credit will fail to lift many single parents out of poverty and could deter families from working longer hours, according to research published today. Gingerbread warns childcare costs will be a barrier to single parents wanting to work more hours when receiving universal credit. The report by the charity Gingerbread found the rising costs of childcare and housing, combined with the way Universal Credit is calculated, means that working longer hours will make only a negligible difference to net household income for many single parents.

The study, which was conducted by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, highlights how families will be affected when the system is launched next year, based on an analysis of how projected Universal Credit entitlements compare to families’ needs. Gingerbread is calling on the government to give families more support for childcare costs, increase the amount single parents can earn before Universal Credit is withdrawn, and reduce the rate at which the benefit is decreased beyond that threshold. The charity estimates that about half a million of the single parent households that will move onto Universal Credit next year will have a lower entitlement than under the current system, based on the government’s own impact assessments. Universal Credit comes into force from October 2013, and will replace tax credits and benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance, income support, child tax credit and housing benefit with a single credit payment. (25.11)

34) Sector leaders call on government to rethink Early Intervention Grant cut

Children's sector leaders are urging ministers to drop plans to hold back £150m from the Early Intervention Grant, to avoid spending more on crisis support in the long-term.  Services for families and young people could be put at risk by cuts to the Early Intervention Grant. According to a Department for Communities and Local Government consultation, £150m will be retained from the grant in 2013/14 and 2014/15 “for future use in funding early intervention and children's services”.

But the Local Government Association (LGA) claimed that the government has “provided no justification for this arbitrary reduction”, “nor has it offered any explanation for how the money withheld will be utilised”. It meanwhile emerged last week that hundreds of millions of pounds to fund free nursery places for disadvantaged two-year-olds is to be cut from the Early Intervention Grant and transferred to the Dedicated Schools Grant, meaning that councils have no flexibility over how to use the cash.

Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, said the decision both to hold back £150m from the Early Intervention Grant and to shift funding for the free entitlement would hamper councils' efforts to provide preventative services. Click here to find out more. (6.10)

35) Skills Review in Voluntary Sector

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, has appointed Dame Mary Marsh to lead a review into leadership and skills in the voluntary sector. Dame Mary will draw upon her impressive experience working with the charity and voluntary sector, which includes her being the founding director of the Clore Social leadership Programme and eight years as Chief Executive of NSPCC, to examine how effectively existing support is meeting the requirements of the sector. She will look at how businesses and professionals can share their expertise with charities and social enterprises, and recommend ways in which the sector can make a dynamic push to upgrade and maintain its skills to meet the challenges of the future.

Dame Mary’s appointment follows the recent Cabinet Office publication of a paper outlining progress in making it easier to set-up and run charities and social enterprises which can be viewed here. This includes efforts to enhance skills and capability within the sector; to improve access to resources, volunteers and support networks; and to simplify regulation and to cut red tape. The Office for Civil Society (part of the Cabinet Office) has also recently extended its support to Skills Third Sector, the VCSE sector’s skills body, with a grant of £250,000 towards their work ensuring that VCSE organisations have the people with the right skills to be effective and resilient in meeting the changing needs of society. (14.10)

36) Study uncovers lack of support for mothers with perinatal depression

The health service lacks sufficient capacity to respond to perinatal depression in mothers, researchers at Warwick Medical School have warned. Family Action’s perinatal support project works with mothers to reduce social isolation. It is estimated that a fifth of women experience antenatal anxiety and depression, with even more women experiencing postnatal anxiety or depression. But an independent evaluation of a perinatal support project for mothers found there is a gap in NHS support. The evaluation, by Warwick Medical School, argues that schemes such as Family Action’s perinatal support project are making up for a deficit in support for parents, particularly those with mild to moderate depression who are not eligible for intensive mental health support.

The Family Action project uses volunteer “befrienders” to help improve mothers’ mental health, self confidence and attachment with their child as well as reduce social isolation. Around a third of women who took part in the evaluation saw improvements in all these key categories.Those recruited to carry out the befriending role are often women who have experienced postnatal depression and are willing to work with other mothers for up to a year. The publication of the report comes four months after former health secretary Andrew Lansley pledged to oversee a raft of improvements to maternity services, including better access to support for those with depression. The Family Action project is based in Swaffam in Norfolk, Oxford, Mansfield, and Hackney. It was launched in 2010 and is being funded by Big Lottery, The Monument Fund and the Henry Smith Charity until July 2013. The study involved interviews with 189 women and 86 befrienders. (21.9)

37) Study reveals brain injury link with youth offending

Hundreds of children are being drawn into youth custody because of failures to identify or provide support for brain injuries and neurological conditions, a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England has found. The report calls for better identification of neurological conditions. The study found that rates of traumatic brain injury run as high as 76 per cent in youth custody compared to up to 24 per cent in the general population. It highlights that although the symptoms of brain injuries are often not spotted, they can make young people more likely to offend due to factors such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, communication difficulties and feelings of alienation.

The report also found that between 60 and 90 per cent of young offenders have speech and language difficulties, and one in 10 may have an autistic spectrum disorder. The report makes a series of recommendations including a call for assessments in schools, so that young people with brain injuries can be identified as soon as behavioural issues are identified. In addition, it recommends that all staff in education, family intervention projects, social services and primary health care settings should be provided with the training and support needed to understand issues relating to neurodisability, and refer children to relevant specialist services. It also calls on the Youth Justice Board, Department of Health and local youth justice agencies to ensure that young people with neurodevelopmental disorders are diverted out of the youth justice system. Children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson said the report raises “serious questions” about whether significant numbers of children in the youth justice system have the ability to understand the whole process from arrest through to sentencing. (21.10)

38) Welfare Reforms

Research on the Welfare Reforms

Optimising welfare reform outcomes for social tenants

This report highlights the risks of people being moved onto monthly benefit payments and housing allowance no longer being paid direct to landlords. It highlights the risks that people's debt levels and risk of being made homeless will increase when the changes come in. (25.11)

39) Welcome to YoungDads.TV!

YoungDads.TV is the Fatherhood Institute's exciting new project to support and empower young dads. The channel features videos made by young dads, as well as opportunities and services for young dads. Click here to find out more.

40) What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse

The NSPCC has published guidance for parents on how to spot the signs of child sexual abuse. It sets out the signs that might indicate a child is being sexually abused, and where to go for information, support and advice. Click here to read on. (20.11)

41) Whitehall cuts ‘threaten children's services’

Frontline services for children will suffer as a result of cuts to central government spending announced in the autumn statement, a think-tank has warned. The Department for Education will have to save £460m by 2014/15. Delivering the statement to parliament, Chancellor George Osborne said government departments would face reductions of one per cent in 2013/14 and two per cent in 2014/15. This equates to £155m savings from the Department for Education budget in 2013/14 and a £305m in 2014/15. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) budget will be protected next year, but will be subject to a two per cent cut, equivalent to £445m, in 2014/15.

Rick Muir, associate director for public service reform at IPPR, told CYP Now that children and young people's services are likely to be hardest hit by the reduction to the DfE's budget, since ministers have committed to protecting spending on schools. The Local Government Association said that councils have so far worked hard to protect spending on areas including children’s social care. Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), said the freeze on spending cuts within the DCLG next year is welcome. “Local government and, in particular, children’s services have been particularly hard hit with cuts in the past two years,” she said. “ADCS welcomes any respite from further cuts this year and we await more detail in the form of the local government settlement. Only then will it become clear as to what the autumn statement truly means for local authorities. (7.12)

41) Working Together to Safeguard Children

This document comes into force with immediate effect and can be viewed here. You can also download a summary of the changes between Working Together 2006 and Working Together 2010 here. Tri-x childcare are also pleased to give free access to their Web enabled version of working together. Not only are they making it freely available, but they will keep it updated.  They are also in the process of updating the Interagency Safeguarding Procedures which will cover both Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton. Click here to view. 

Following a Joint Steering Group this week, please find below the links to the Policy Briefing from Tri X on the new Working Together to Safeguard Children 2012 (explaining the potential implications of the consultation documents) Tri.X have created a web enabled version of these documents so that they can be accessed anywhere at any time. This resource is FREE for all to use. It can be accessed here. (30.6)

42) Youth services key to raising participation age, says ADCS

Youth services must be more involved in efforts to raise the participation age, a spokesman for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has claimed. As of summer next year, all young people in England must continue in education or training until the academic year in which they turn 17, rising to 18 from 2015. But Mark Carraline, director of children’s services in Bury, and ADCS lead on youth provision, said more must be done to provide alternatives for young people not suited to mainstream education or training.

Speaking at the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services (CHYPS) convention, he argued that participation rates for 17-year-olds is already at a high level, with around 90 per cent of young people in Bury currently engaged in education, training or an apprenticeship. Carraline insisted that those not participating in such provision would require entirely different options to what currently exists.To protect the future of local services for young people, Carraline said that councils must find ways of demonstrating the long-term impact of youth work, and explore new delivery models such as the troubled families agenda. (25.11)

43) Young victims of domestic violence to be recognised in revised legal definition

The legal definition of domestic violence is to be widened to include teenagers, so that 16- and 17-year-olds can access support to escape abusive relationships, the government has announced. Plans to change the legal definition of domestic violence follow a government campaign to prevent abuse in teenage relationships. Currently the official definition of domestic violence is limited to people over the age of 18 who are in abusive relationships. But from March next year, the definition will be expanded so that it covers teenagers and victims of psychological abuse such as “coercive control”.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said government wants to take the lead on exposing “the true face of domestic violence”.Meanwhile, the plight of teenage victims of domestic abuse has been highlighted in new research by the charity Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse. The charity analysed 183 domestic abuse cases where the victim was under 18 and found that a fifth were pregnant when the abuse took place. In six out of ten cases victims were at risk of serious harm or murder and in three quarters of cases they were punched, slapped or kicked. ?A similar proportion (78 per cent) were the victim of controlling behaviour such as threats to kill or being isolated from their family A recent British Crime Survey found that 16- to 19-year-olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner, with 12.7 per cent of women and 6.2 per cent of men in this age group suffering abuse, compared to seven per cent of women and five per cent of men in older groups. (21.9)

44) How can young people influence local services?

A new guide on best practice on involving young people in decision making about local services. Click here to find out more. (22.10)









Voluntary Organisations for Children, young people & families, 43 Bromham Road, Bedford, MK40 2AA
Tel: 01234 354366   Fax: 01234 347503   Email: