Expansion of innovative joint children’s services company on the horizon

Achieving for Children (AfC), the social enterprise company owned by Richmond and Kingston councils, could be joined by another local authority – The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

When the company was first created, the focus was to develop nationally renowned children’s and safeguarding services. The business model was designed to enable further trading and expansion. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have now expressed an interest in joining the company.

This partnership would have a number of benefits, including greater resilience, improved service provision, more diversity across the organisation and a greater potential for innovation through sharing of best practice. There would also be opportunity for staff development, leading to a better trained and more stable workforce across all three councils.

Over the next few months, additional feasibility work will take place to establish how best to bring the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead into the AfC family.

AfC was established in April 2014. The company provides children’s services for both boroughs. Since the launch AfC has supported a number of other local authorities including: Sunderland, Doncaster, Wandsworth and Reading. 

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“AfC was established as a community interest company with Kingston that would not only improve and deliver quality children’s services for both boroughs at a reduced cost, but also seek to join up with other councils in the future.

“Councils across the country are looking for new ways of saving money. In Richmond, we have lost 66% of our Government funding. We simply can’t provide services in the same way. 
“The company brought together two children’s services, delivering better results for children, young people and their families. It has not only resulted in back office savings, but also has ensured we maximise the effectiveness of our resources.  
“We are still in early days talking with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, but I am committed to supporting the growth of AfC in the future.”

Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“Kingston recognises that we need to focus on the things that matter most to our residents. With ever decreasing budgets and increasing demand we need to work differently. Achieving for Children is a perfect example of how this can be done successfully. The introduction of AfC saw Kingston’s children’s services leap two Ofsted ratings to ‘good’, which is remarkable. 

“With safeguarding and children’s welfare at the very heart of what AfC do, their reputation as best in class was inevitable. The growth of Achieving for Children is both set to deliver great results to our colleagues in Windsor and Maidenhead and offer Kingston further opportunity to innovate.”

Nick Whitfield, Chief Executive of Achieving for Children, said: 

“I’m delighted the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have approached us to suggest joining up. I’m confident there will be mutual benefits for all of us in a long term partnership, but it’s early days and I look forward to working with the three councils to see what’s possible. 

“We’re all operating in a tough financial climate, and joining services together across Kingston and Richmond has already helped us to reduce our back office costs and improve services for vulnerable children and young people. Any options to make further efficiencies in this area are worth looking at.“

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, added: 

“This is a great opportunity for our council and for the children of the borough. We are sure that it will provide even better services for them, and their parents. We anticipate joining AfC as an equal shareholder to create something which is new for the country.  This may be an arrangement for improving services that other local authorities in the country may follow.”