'Significant worry' over rise in children needing care
PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 August 2017
There has been a rise in the number of vulnerable children needing support from social services at the same time as funding has been cut, which could leave the system in 'crisis'.
New figures show a 70 per cent increase in the number of abused and neglected children being put on council protection plans, which aim to keep them safe, over the past 10 years.
There has also been a nine per cent increase in the number of children being referred to North Somerset Council’s social services department.
At the same time, the council has lost Government grants, and warnings have been issued that social care is being pushed to breaking point.
North Somerset Council continues to provide valuable social services for youngsters in its care, but its children’s services department continually comes in over-budget.
Cllr Richard Tucker, who sits on the council’s children’s and young person’s services scrutiny panel, said: “Our youth service has already taken a huge hit in funding reductions and is a shadow of the provision that existed before the main cutback it suffered in 2012.
“We hear reports from officers at each scrutiny panel of the dire financial pressures on the directorate and the projected trends of long-term increasing demand on the council’s children’s services.
“Managing the costs and numbers of looked-after children in council care has been a significant worry, along with continued staffing cuts to be able to carry out all the duties across the range of responsibilities.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils around the country, said: “The huge financial pressures councils are under, coupled with the spike in demand for child protection support, mean the limited money councils have available is increasingly being taken up with the provision of urgent help for children and families already at crisis point, leaving very little to invest in early intervention.”
The LGA believes few savings can be made without having a ‘lasting impact’ upon crucial services.
Action For Children has called for the Government to provide ‘adequate funding’ so help can be given to the children who need it.