Funding for Birmingham’s children’s social care has been significantly lower than spend in comparable UK cities the council’s own review has revealed.
The review is part of a council-wide response to forced budget cuts of one quarter to the council’s controllable budget over the next two years.
The review authors pointed out that low levels of funding in previous years, and the fact Birmingham’s safeguarding services were rated inadequate, meant “Birmingham will have to have a combined programme of some investment and efficiency to get the best from the resources put in”.
Despite some significant reductions in the number of social work referrals (which have halved since 2011) and initial assessments (reduced by a third since 2009) social worker case loads were also still too high across both child protection and looked after children, the review stated.
Birmingham’s current average caseload is 29 children per social worker. Most councils aim to have caseloads in the early to mid-teens depending on complexity.
The council is looking to protect the current children’s services budget and look to make cuts where they can in the education sector which has historically had high levels of funding from the council.
“Piecemeal cuts to social care services to meet budget targets would present unacceptable risks to Birmingham’s children.
“We want to work with schools to identify the way in which the resources currently spent across all of care and education services can be used differently to support this aim,” the review stated.
A six-month project will be established to identify overlapping services, effective early intervention strategies and recommend future approaches across all of children’s services in the city.
Greater use of personal budgets for children with disabilities will also be looked at.