- Luke Pollard MP calls for urgent meeting with Minister and praises work of Plymouth social workers and foster carers
- Further £3billion needed by 2025 to keep children’s services running at same level
- Plymouth City Council lost £350 million in revenue support since 2013
Last week in Parliament Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, highlighted the crisis in children’s social care in the far south west. The Labour MP praised the work of social workers, local authorities and in particular Plymouth City Council but said children’s services are on the brink already in a state of crisis and cannot continue to do more with less.
Troubling analysis from the LGA shows that a further £3billion of funding is needed by 2025 to keep children’s services running at current levels. Plymouth has more children requiring care than ever before and it is projected only continue to increase.
Plymouth City Council has lost £350 million in revenue support since 2013 putting huge pressure on services that provide social care and support for the city’s most vulnerable children, especially those with complex needs.
In the debate Luke Pollard MP spoke about funding issues affecting younger and older children – raising concerns both about early intervention and support for 16 to 17-year olds. He called on the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Education to meet with him and a cross-party delegation from Plymouth to discuss exceptionalism in children’s social care. Plymouth has had a number of recent examples of hugely expensive care packages for children with complex needs effectively sinking the care budget. Luke made clear the large cost of these packages should not be blamed on the children but we need funding help to recognise the impacts these exceptional costs have on constrained budgets in a time of continuing austerity.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“Plymouth’s social workers and foster carers are modern day heroes and their work often gets overlooked. Adult social care has taken all the headlines but the crisis in children’s social care is just as real and, in many circumstances, much more pressing.
“One reason why funding for Plymouth’s social care system has been sunk in recent years is the exceptional costs of funding care packages for a very small number of children. It’s important that in discussing and debating these issues, at no stage is any blame attributed to the children who need multimillion-pound care packages. It is exactly right that the children with the most complex and urgent care needs get that care, especially in a region like the far south-west where complex care facilities are not always on our doorstep and children sometimes need to leave the area and the support networks in their locality. However, we cannot defund the needs of the many just to fund those of the few.
“I fear that in a funding situation where there is more and more demand, difficult choices will need to be made. When local councils have lost so much of their funding, exceptional care packages risk really undermining the quality of care that can be given to every child and that’s why we need a new funding model that supports the care for every child.”
In an article in the Herald last week, Cllr Mark Lowry, the Council’s Finance Chief warned that Plymouth City Council continues to be under increased financial strain and the Government’s support grant had shrunk.
- Between 2011 and 2016, central government funding for local authorities’ children and young people’s’ services decreased by £2.4 billion – almost a quarter in real terms.
- As of March 2018, there were 75,420 looked after children in England, an increase of 4 per cent since March 20177 and the highest level since the mid-1980s.
- Plymouth City Council has seen an increased complexity of need for children requiring care and rises in costs year on year.
- Reductions in funding and increased demand means many councils have had to concentrate their limited resources on work with children with the highest level of need.