Council debates £12m funding for ‘inadequate’ children’s services

family law

Norfolk County Council is considering a £12 million investment in its “inadequate” children’s services.

If approved, the proposed funding will be spread out over the next four years so the local authority can redesign how they operate. Such steps to do so include an expansion of their early help services for vulnerable children, the recruitment of more in-house foster carers and more training for social workers. The hope is that such a redesign will reduce how many are taken into care.

The number of ‘looked after children’ in the area has “increased consistently” over the last five years, according to a recent report submitted to the council. In March of 2012, there were 1,015 such youngsters in the council’s care and that number had risen to 1,107 by March of this year. The report notes that while the number of looked after children had increased throughout the country in that time “the rate of the Norfolk increase has exceeded the national picture”.

At the moment, Norfolk’s current children’s services are “financially unsustainable”, the report read. The costs are projected to cause the council to spend £1 million more than its allotted budget despite a recent injection of £9 million in extra funds. If the current system is not redesigned, increased demand could cost an extra £5 million per year by 2021/22.

Last month, the Local Government Association (LGA) claimed that children’s services throughout the country were at “breaking point”. Collectively, local authorities have overspent their budgets by more than £600 million and the LGA predicted that this could rise to as much as £2 billion by 2020 if corrective steps are not taken.

Photo by shirokazan vai Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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