Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Social Care Overspend Rising; CITY CHIEFS: BLAME TORY AUSTERITY FOR MASSIVE BUDGET WOE

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Social Care Overspend Rising; CITY CHIEFS: BLAME TORY AUSTERITY FOR MASSIVE BUDGET WOE

Article excerpt

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter @danhollandnews

CITY leaders in Newcastle are "dismayed" by a lack of government action on a child social care crisis that has sent local authority costs sky-rocketing.

The number of vulnerable looked-after children in the care of Newcastle City Council has spiralled in the past year - up from 558 in March 2018, to 663 in the latest figures from December.

That means the council is expecting to overspend its child social care budget for the year by a massive PS6.7m amid the escalating demand for services that the most at-risk youngsters "desperately need".

Coun Nora Casey told a cabinet meeting on Monday night that she is "dismayed" by the Government's "sticking-plaster" approach to social care.

The Labour cabinet member for children, education and skills, added: "The Chancellor barely mentioned children in his Spring Statement. I understand his hands are tied by Brexit, but Brexit did not create this problem - austerity did.

"It is not just councils hurting. All the other services that families relied on - some of which were funded by the council - are slowly dying off, despite our best efforts to support them."

Council leader Nick Forbes pointed out that four of every five local councils responsible for child social care have reported overspending their budgets this year. He said: "What we need is a much more comprehensive understanding from government around what they need to do to act. Getting a grip on these kind of things is difficult because the entire practical bandwidth of the government is taken up with Brexit."

Last year, a PS5.66m child social care overspend in Newcastle was partly blamed one "one-off" costs relating to responses to the Operation Sanctuary investigation into sexual exploitation in Newcastle. …

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