Shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton has admitted children’s services will be “firefighting” until the recession ends and care referrals reduce.
Speaking to Community Care, shadow children’s minister Loughton said: “It’s definitely just manning the barricades for the forseeable future. When we get on to something approaching an even keel then we need to start talking about long-term preventive measures.”
However, he claimed the current tough situation would ease after the country had pulled out of recession and the post-Baby P effect had died down. Tory plans for recruitment, training and cutting bureaucracy for social workers would create extra capacity.
Loughton dismissed claims from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the LGA and Cafcass that high rates of referrals were here to stay.
“I’m not convinced it is a long-term trend,” he said. “Care applications are already dropping back from their peak and there is evidence that judges are refusing applications because they don’t meet thresholds, which to me says it is a knee-jerk reaction to Baby P.”
He said it was also not fair to judge Cafcass’s future on the current caseload. But, if the Tories were elected, the role of the family and guardians body would be reviewed after referrals had fallen to more manageable levels.