Sunday, 22 January 2017

Clearer about costs

Back in February 2016, I expressed some puzzlement about statements emerging from the Department for Education to the effect that there was no relationship between quality and cost in children’s services. Children’s Minister Edward Timpson was reported in Community Care as telling MPs that there is no “correlation between spend and quality” in children’s social care.

My gut feeling that there was something amiss in these claims has now been confirmed by academic research from the University of Coventry, which shows that Timpson’s conclusions are at best simplistic. The researchers demonstrate that when deprivation is taken into account, high deprivation local authorities which achieved a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgement from Ofsted spent more money than those judged ‘inadequate’. However, the level of spending did not make a difference to the outcomes of Ofsted inspections in the low deprivation areas.

Importantly the University of Coventry research also reveals a relationship between social deprivation and the outcomes of Ofsted inspections. The researchers found that just over 40% of low deprivation authorities received a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgement, compared to only 30% of mid-deprivation authorities and only 11% of high deprivation authorities. They found that only 21% low deprivation local authorities were judged ‘inadequate’, compared to 29% of high deprivation authorities.

The conclusion I draw from all this is that spending does matter – and it matters most in the areas where the need is highest.