Cuts fear for Wales despite budget rise

Services for looked-after children in Wales could be at risk next year despite an above-inflation funding increase for local government.

The Welsh assembly set a better-than-expected budget of £3.5bn for 2006-7 – up by 5.1 per cent on this year. But the Welsh Local Government Association warned that the rise would not alleviate the pressures some councils faced in looked-after children’s services.

Association leader Derek Vaughan said councils would “more than likely need to make some tough decisions to minimise the impact on the public and balance service provision”.

Meanwhile, figures from the assembly show a slight fall in the number of children in foster care, from 3,382 on 31 March 2004 to 3,370 a year later.

The number of approved local authority foster carers in Wales increased by just eight last year, to 1,891, but the Fostering Network estimates that an extra 750 local authority foster carers are needed.

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