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Case Study: Impact of delays in care proceedings on Children's Social Care

Updated: Apr 24

Client: Department for Education

Date: December 2021- April 2022

Challenges faced by the client:

Mutual Ventures (MV) was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to undertake a programme of work to better understand the impact of delays in care proceedings on children’s social care. We conducted this work from December 2021 to April 2022. The key focus was to conduct an analysis of the financial impact of these delays, which hitherto was neither fully researched nor fully understood.

Support offered:

Working in partnership with a children’s social care team across the country, we carried out a deep dive evidence-gathering exercise. This involved workshops with frontline staff and team leaders to look at the journeys taken by children from the pre-proceedings stage to final hearings. Blocks and delays in these journeys were identified and the root causes for the delays investigated. The outcomes for some of the children whose final hearing had been delayed were explored through a case study analysis. A more detailed data-gathering exercise was then carried out to confirm the anecdotal evidence from the workshops and quantify the scale and impact of the delays.

The gathered data and information was then subsequently used to build a financial modelling tool which allows the user to model the financial impact of court delays for children’s services. The model can be used by individual local authorities or children’s trusts to understand the potential financial costs that delays in proceedings create. We then used the tool to extrapolate the financial impact at national level.


Our modelling suggested that each one-week reduction in average proceedings duration could generate a financial benefit of approximately £24 million across all English local authorities. The findings from our report showed that through the efficient use of resources and mature cross-system leadership, more money could be released to the wider system and spent on preventative services and pre-proceedings with an aim to divert cases from courts. Not only would reducing family court delays reduce financial costs across the system, it would also improve outcomes for vulnerable children.


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