Local government leaders in the north west have warned of a ‘growing’ children’s social care crisis in their area.
Cabinet members from 20 councils have written a cross-party letter to Phillip Hammond warning the north west has 13,000 Looked After Children — the greatest number of children in care of any region in England.
This figure has risen by 12% since 2013 which is double the 6% increase in the rest of the country, they told the chancellor.
The letter also noted there had been a £45m increase in expenditure on residential care placements this year, and there were 90,930 referrals in 2016/17, driven by increases in domestic abuse and mental health issues.
‘There is a growing crisis in children’s social care in the north west and councils are struggling to cope,’ said Cllr Barry Kushner, Liverpool’s cabinet member for children’s social care and lead member for the north west on the Children’s Services Network of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
‘We know that the sustainable solution to reducing children’s social care is early intervention and stopping problems becoming crises.
‘But the increasing costs of children’s social care is driving our limited resources away from funding early help.
‘This is not good for families because we can only intervene when a situation has escalated out of control, or for society as we often end up taking children into care, which is far more costly and damages their life chances.’