Cash plea over ‘grow­ing child so­cial care cri­sis’

Middleton Guardian - - TIMES WHEN KEN DODD VISITED MIDDLETON - DA­MON WILKIN­SON

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

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