According to the Cafcass chief executive, Anthony Douglas, the temporary measures that enabled Cafcass to assign cases to duty guardians, due to end this month, are likely to be extended by a further year.
Speaking at the House of Commons' public accounts committee on Tuesday, 6 September, Douglas informed MPs that he and Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the family division at the High Court, are hoping to release a joint statement detailing an extension to the interim guidance before the end of the month.
Douglas, who emphasised that the guidance would be extended as a temporary measure and acceded to the need of more permanent and sustainable measures, claimed that the extension would allow local agreements between judges and Cafcass offices to continue the measures if they were helping practitioners administer the unprecedented number of referrals.
According to Douglas, the high levels of referrals have continued unabated with figures for August 2010 reaching 766, as compared to 671 at the same time last year.
Speaking of the interim guidance, Douglas claimed that it had enabled Cafcass to reduce backlogs and unallocated cases.
He added that Cafcass now has just 150 unallocated cases and that the average waiting time to allocate a guardian in a public law case had been reduced from 40 days to 27 this year.