Cash plea over ‘growing child social care crisis’
EXTRA cash is urgently needed to ‘address the growing crisis in children’s social care’.
That’s the view of Rochdale borough children’s services boss Coun Kieran Heakin.
He’s one of 20 social care chiefs from across the North West who have written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond, calling on the government to provide more funding.
The letter says a combination of austerity and rising demand for services is creating an ‘unsustainable financial demand’ on councils.
“As the Cabinet leads for children’s services in the North West we are writing to request that you allocate the additional funds that we need to address the growing crisis in children’s social care,” the letter adds.
“The demand and the complexity of cases is increasing, creating overspends in our children’s services budgets, at the same time that our council budgets are being reduced.
“This is an unsustainable financial demand for each of our councils.
“In the North West there are now more than 13,000 looked after children. This represents a 20-year high and is the greatest number of children in care of any region in England.
“This has been driven by growth of 12 per cent since 2013 alone, double the six per cent increase in the rest of the country. We know that the sustainable solution to reducing children’s social care is early intervention. But the increasing costs of children’s social care is driving our limited resources away from funding early help.
“As the Finance Bill makes its way through Parliament, we are asking the Government to respond to the crisis of children’s social care, and provide adequate funding to meet these needs.”
Last month the new children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi promised “world-class” support for social work but said strong leadership, rather than extra funding, was the key.
It came after the Local Government Association warned that children’s services in England face a £2bn shortfall in funding by 2020.
Councils are opening more than 500 child protection cases every day, the association says, up from 200 a decade ago.
Coun Kieran Heakin