Government "burying head in the sand" on children's services funding crisis, says Council Leader
The Government is "burying its head in the sand" by failing to tackle a growing funding crisis in children's social care services, says a Council Leader.
Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Leader, expressed his concerns following this week's Local Government Financial Settlement announcement.
The settlement gives councils the green light to increase Council Tax bills by up to six per cent next year.
But there is no new funding model to ease the growing pressure on children's services, despite calls for these vital services to be fully-funded by Government.
"Once again, we find ourselves extremely disappointed - and in fact, angered - by the settlement because it does absolutely nothing to help councils address the growing funding crisis in children's social care services," said Councillor Cook.
"Rather than grasp the nettle and provide additional money to put councils on a sustainable financial footing, the Government has failed to accept responsibility for tackling this crisis and is simply burying its head in the sand.
"It leaves councils facing a financial cliff-edge as they take on the enormous challenge of attempting to cope with soaring demand for these services without the injection of new Government money that was so desperately needed.
"It is a tragedy that yet again, no such financial support has been forthcoming. We're simply told that we can increase Council Tax, yet that in itself will raise nowhere near enough finance to keep pace with demand."
Earlier this month, Councillor Cook joined the Local Government Association's (LGA) calls for children's social care services to be fully-funded by Government.
His plea came after a budget report revealed the Council's annual spend on caring for looked after children has exceeded £20million for the first time.
It also revealed that the combined cost of providing social care to adults and children now accounts for well over half of the authority's annual spend on services.