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NCASC18 President’s Address

ADCS President’s address at the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2018

Speaking to delegates at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester Stuart Gallimore, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), today said:

On ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research

“Poverty can and does impact upon parenting capacity. What our research (and that of others) has found quite clearly is that poverty as a result of the cumulative impacts of 10 years of austerity, and welfare reform is a primary cause of increased demand for early help and children’s social care…The ‘trigger trio’ of parental mental ill-health, problematic substance use, and domestic abuse are also driving significant demand pressures. Together with child poverty, these represent the most prevalent risk factors in children’s lives. So it makes sense doesn’t it to address the cycle of adult disadvantage in order to help improve outcomes for children.”

On the Chancellor’s budget announcements

“The Chancellor announced £410 million for social care in 2019/20, with no further detail about how this will be shared or allocated between the desperate needs of adult social care and children’s social care services. It sets us up for 152 local bun-fights. Whilst any additional funding is to be welcomed, this is nowhere near enough to plug the funding gap expected in children’s services budgets next year alone, let alone longer term. For children’s social care specifically, the Chancellor announced that 20 local authorities with the highest numbers of looked after children, will share £84 million over five years…We are keen to understand how this will make a difference to the sector as a whole.”

He went on to say: “The one-off capital payment of £400 million announced in the Budget for equipment and buildings, is less than has been allocated for repairing roads. This will not solve the long-term issues we see in our schools. Failing to invest in children and their education is a false economy.”

On children’s services funding

“We are deeply concerned at the government’s piecemeal approach to funding children’s services. Small, ad hoc, short-term pots of funding from central government in response to single issues, made available for some but not all local areas, are particularly unhelpful and simply not good enough. They fall woefully short of the sustainable and equitable long-term investment strategy we need to ensure that children receive high quality, safe services at the earliest possible opportunity.”

He went on to say: “As part of ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research we asked directors how much money they needed to fill the hole in their budget and what percentage of their overall budget that represented…In essence, children’s services in England need around £840 million pound a year, each year to 2020 to stabilise the ship alone. This does not take into account inflation, price rises nor any further growth in demand or the child population. It would not allow for re-investment in the essential preventative services that local authorities have reluctantly had to begin cutting.”

On early help

“Early help is not a panacea for addressing disadvantage. It does not reduce the pressure on children’s social care in the short term. Nor does it generate short term cashable savings. Early help seeks to address complex and often deeply entrenched problems for children and families. Success depends on long-term investment, co-ordinated across all agencies with an interest. This task is impeded by a funding system biased towards short-term spending in response to immediate pressures.”

On care leavers

“Extending the cohort of care experienced young people who can ask for support from a personal advisor to the age of 25 is the right thing to do it’s what we do for our own children - we want to stay in touch with our care leavers and support them as they get older. As they experience the ups and downs of life, they will inevitably have needs for support that we as corporate parents have a moral duty to respond to…The funding local authorities received to help them meet the financial implications of the new responsibilities towards care leavers was inadequate. What added to our collective disappointment was the reality that these new responsibilities come on the back of a 50% reduction in local authority funding since 2010.”


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