A Lancaster county councillor has written to the government asking for more money to deal with a “growing crisis in children’s social care”.
Conservative Susie Charles, who represents Lancaster Rural East and is the cabinet member for children, young people and schools on Lancashire County Council, has put her name to a letter which says there is an “unsustainable financial demand” for children’s services.
There are now more than 13,000 looked-after children across the north west of England, which represents a 20-year high and the greatest number of children in care of any of the English regions.
The letter, penned by council leaders from across the north-west, reads: “As the cabinet leads for children’s services in the north-west of England we are urging the chancellor to allocate the additional funds we need to address the growing crisis in children’s social care.
“The demand and complexity of cases is increasing, creating overspends in our children’s services budgets, at the same time that our council budgets are being reduced.
“This is an unsustainable financial demand for each of our councils.
“In the north-west there are now more than 13,000 looked-after children. This represents a 20-year high and is the greatest number of children in care of any region in England.
“This has been driven by growth of 12 per cent since 2013 alone, double the six per cent increase in the rest of the country.”
Coun Charles said: “We need to do all we can to ensure vulnerable children across Lancashire are safe and well.
“Children’s social care is a key part of this and demands on the service are continuing to increase. We need as much funding as possible to provide good children’s social care, which is why I’ve signed this letter along with other cabinet leads from councils across the north west.”
Councillors have recorded 90,930 referalls in 2016/17, an increase in two per cent on the previous year.
They say the data suggests that this is being driven by the increase in domestic abuse and mental health issues.
Recent analysis from the Placements Northwest census has identified sharp escalation in costs, including a £45m increase in expenditure on residential care placements this year, the letter states. As the finance bill makes its way through parliament, the councillors are asking the government to respond to the crisis of children’s social care, and provide adequate funding to meet these needs.