Social services budgets threatened by `remorseless` rise in looked after children

A “remorseless“ rise in the numbers of looked after children
is threatening to blow a hole in social services budgets it was
claimed, writes Janet Snell.

A survey of local authorities has revealed that they have been
forced to find an extra £200 million to keep services afloat
this year by diverting cash from other areas and raising council

The Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local
Government Association are forming a national coalition of partner
organisations across the social care and health sector in a bid to
lobby for more cash.

Directors and councillors plan to highlight the stark contrast
between the large sums being poured into health and the
cash-starved local authority sector.

ADSS president Mike Leadbetter said social services departments
were performing “astonishingly well” considering the little cash
they had available. “With proper funding, especially in children’s
services, we could do even more, and this would reduce the
financial pressure on other services,” he said.

According to the ADSS/LGA survey almost half of social services
departments are recording an increase in the numbers of looked
after children. The greatest pressures are in residential care,
including specialist and secure provision and foster care.

Sixty nine per cent of the projected spending above budgets is
on children’s services, 12 per cent on older people and 19 per cent
on learning difficulty services.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairperson of the LGA, warned: “This report
clearly shows that the government needs to complement the
investment of the NHS with investment into social care, not least
to ensure that the investment into the health services is

“Local government is committed to providing high quality
services for children, elderly people, and people with
disabilities. These services are in serious jeopardy unless
substantial, immediate and long term financial investment is made
in social services,” he said.

Local authorities in England have set budgets for social
services for the current financial year over £900 million or
10 per cent above standard spending assessments.

Hopes of improving services were dashed when the government
failed to come up with any new resources for social care in the
financial settlement to councils announced in December.




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