CAFCASS: Administrative Delays

(asked on 22nd September 2021) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the impact of the backlog of cases in the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service on vulnerable children and families.

Answered by
James Cartlidge Portrait
James Cartlidge
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (and Assistant Government Whip)
This question was answered on 21st October 2021

The protection of children, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is a priority for this government. We recognise the additional pressures that the family justice system has faced since the Covid-19 pandemic, and the impact this has had on children and families who use the family courts. Since the start of the pandemic the number of new cases issued to Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) has exceeded the number of cases closed for Cafcass. As at 1 September, Cafcass caseload is 20% higher than March 2020.

The Ministry of Justice has worked closely with Cafcass to manage these pressures and mitigate the impact on its services. Earlier this year £6million in additional funding was agreed to enable Cafcass to increase staff capacity to meet the increased open caseload.

Cafcass has also put in place a protocol to, where necessary, prioritise cases in local service areas so it can continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. The approach involves courts working with Cafcass to triage and allocate cases in private law proceedings on the basis of risk and capacity. The Ministry of Justice has agreed an additional £491k to support this work until the end of this financial year.

Cafcass’ prioritisation protocol only applies to private law applications. All public law work continues to be allocated in the normal way and within established timescales. Urgent public law children cases are still being prioritised by the courts, to help safeguard the welfare of the most vulnerable children.

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