A LACK of cash could undermine child protection in the future.
A top-level committee of MPs - led by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman - fears delays will hit implementation of ministers' plans for improving child protection in the aftermath of the Victoria Climbie tragedy.
The Commons Education and Skills Select Committee welcomed the Government's "ambitious and comprehensive" Every Child Matters programme, but questioned whether the Government was setting aside sufficient resources to ensure its success.
The programme, published in September 2003, was the Government's response to Lord Laming's report on the February 2000 death of eight-year-old Victoria.
Victoria died from hypothermia after months of sustained abuse at the hands of her foster-carer and great aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, and her partner Carl John Manning.
Lord Laming's report, published in January 2003, concluded that the child's death had been preventable, with 12 key occasions identified on which various agencies could have intervened to save her.
The Every Child Matters programme is intended to bring about root-and-branch reform of children's services to ensure that children achieve five main outcomes: to be healthy; to stay safe; to enjoy and achieve; to make a positive contribution; and to achieve economic wellbeing.
Key elements of the programme include the creation of a computerised `child index' containing basic data about all children; and the development by local authorities of `Children's Trusts', which would bring together key agencies to co-ordinate the planning, commissioning, funding and delivery of services suited to local needs and priorities.
But in a report on the programme published today the cross-party committee, chaired by Labour MP Mr Sheerman, cautioned: "Some extra resources are being made available for implementation of Every Child Matters, but the Government has said that it expects improvements to services to be largely resourced from mainstream, non-ringfenced budgets and savings derived from more integrated and coherent services.
"Witnesses have told us that this will be difficult to achieve in practice.
"Workforce development for in-service staff is of critical importance, but it is likely to be resource intensive. It is not clear that services will be able to meet the costs that this will incur."