New launch date set for new children’s trust for Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire County Council is continuing to set up the new children's trust for the county.Northamptonshire County Council is continuing to set up the new children's trust for the county.
Northamptonshire County Council is continuing to set up the new children's trust for the county.
The new children’s trust for Northamptonshire has been set a new target of launching by November 1.

The trust will deliver social services for children on behalf of the two new unitary authority councils – West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire – that will be formed in April.

It had originally been due to launch in June but the start date has been delayed due to COVID-19, with the team that were working on the trust being redeployed to focus on the delivery of existing children’s services. Work only recommenced on the trust project in June.

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Plans to develop the children’s trust were announced by the Government in May 2019 following a series of critical Ofsted reports, which culminated in the county council’s children’s services being labelled inadequate.

A legal company, wholly owned currently by the county council, has already been established with chairman Ian Curryer listed as the sole director on Companies House. And in May, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson appointed four non-executive directors onto the board – including previous Deputy Children’s Commissioner Clare Chamberlain.

Next week (September 8) is likely to see members of the county council’s cabinet endorse the appointments of four other directors onto the trust board, as well as agree to delegate authority to chief executive Theresa Grant to ‘take all necessary actions to finalise the contractual arrangements’ of the trust,

A report, to be read by cabinet members, outlines how the company will be ‘Teckal’ compliant so that the council can award a contract to the trust for services without having to go through the usual competitive tendering process.

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According to the report, this means that: “The Council must exercise a control over the company which is similar to that which it exercises over its own departments. The council must exercise a decisive influence over both strategic objectives and significant decisions of the controlled company either itself or through another subsidiary.

“More than 80 per cent of the activities of the company must be carried out in the performance of tasks entrusted to it by the council. The council will exercise the required level of control over the company through the commissioning and corporate governance arrangements.”

To begin with, both the council and the new trust will remain subject to government intervention, and will continue to receive support from Lincolnshire County Council, which has acted as an improvement partner since last year. The neighbouring authority will report any progress into the Department for Education.