Comment: PAC report on children’s social care

Responding to the Public Accounts Committee report on children’s social care Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said:

“Local authorities are committed to improving children’s lives and outcomes but there is simply not enough money in the system to meet the increasing level of need in our communities. No one can underestimate how hard we have worked to make savings but this has been at the expense of the very services that are designed to prevent children and families’ needs from escalating and reduce future demand. Despite the significant financial and demand pressures we face Ofsted’s latest annual report acknowledges an improving picture in the quality and overall effectiveness of children’s services across the country.

“Some level of variation in levels of demand, activity and spend between local authorities is to be expected and this is driven by factors largely out of our control but central government can, and must, make a difference by tackling the wider social determinants that fuel demand, such as deprivation and the prevalence of domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and poor mental health. A child poverty reduction strategy would be a good place to start. The issue of variability should not be used to suggest there is scope for more efficiencies because there is not. Even high performing, well-run, low spending councils, like my own, simply have nowhere left to go. Collectively, children’s services overspent by more than £800 million in the last financial year and face a funding gap of £3 billion by 2025, just to stand still. It is crucial that a compelling case is made for our services to be properly resourced ahead of the Spending Review and we would be happy to work with the DfE on this on behalf of children. Children’s services urgently need to be put on a sustainable financial footing, or I worry about the nature and type of services we will be able to provide to vulnerable children and their families.”


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