Yesterday, the Local Government Association (LGA) made an announcement on about their findings into Children’s social care and the financial pressures being faced by Local Authorities. The LGA, which represents over 370 councils in England and Wales, warned Children’s social care is being pushed to breaking point. This problem is being caused between growing demand for these services and further financial restraints on council budgets.
In the LGA announcement, Councillor Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The reality is that services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point. Government must commit to the life chances of children and young people by acting urgently to address the growing funding gap.”
The analysis by the LGA shows that in 2015/16 councils overspent their budgets for children’s social care by £605 million. According to the LGA, 75% of councils in England are overspending on these budgets. It is clear the budget problems are being caused by rising demand on these services and the limited money available to councils in these times of austerity from central government.
In response to the LGA announcement Councillor Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham MBC, commented on these findings reflecting on Rotherham and said:
“For us now, spend on Children’s social care is up 60% since 2013, but the overall council budget is down by a third. The number of children who are looked after up by nearly 20% in the last year alone. So we were one of the 75% of councils that overspent their Children’s social care budgets last year.”
At the Rotherham Council Meeting held in March 2017, the council approved and set it’s budget for 2017/18 which had to overcome an overall funding shortfall of £24 million. Despite these cutbacks, there was a commitment of an extra £10 million to Children’s services to protect the funding for these services and the rising demand in the borough. These financial pressures follow £138 million worth of cuts that have already been taken since 2010 as well.
The LGA warns there will be a £2 billion funding gap expected by 2020. It is apparent that unless there is urgent action and the Government priorities spending for these services, the gap will only continue to grow.