Monday, 29 March 2010

Fees abolished - one small step towards simpler systems?

It is a great relief that the Government has finally agreed to abolish court fees in care proceedings cases ( I have only just got around to skimming Francis Plowden’s report on this issue, which recommended the abolition of fees, and I was very struck by paragraph 22 of this report which says:

In carrying out this review, I have been struck by how complex the arrangements for safeguarding are, how poorly understood the interdependencies are by outsiders, but also by some working within the area, and by the poor quality of data.
[Francis Plowden, Court Fees in Child Care Proceedings, Ministry of Justice,  September 2009]

Governments and other policy-makers often seem to confuse greater complexity with improvement and so the child protection system has become ever more complex. But a more complex system is one which is harder to understand and one in which changes often have unexpected or unintended consequences. We should always seek, wherever possible, to make child protection systems simpler and more transparent. The lean principle, which has been so successful in manufacturing and some commercial services, should be rigorously applied in child protection.