Rotherham MP Sarah Champion calls for additional children’s services funding following child abuse scandal

The police investigation into historical child sex abuse in Rotherham has placed an ‘unprecedented and unbudgeted pressure’ on the borough’s council, the town’s MP said.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sarah Champion said the number of children in care had risen from 407 in March 2015 to 634 in December 2018.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.

She said: "We are on our knees in Rotherham and we are begging you for support,.”

Responding, the government said it was spending more on child social care nationally.

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Ms Champion said the National Crime Agency's Operation Stovewood had contributed to the increase in the number of children in care, and urged the government to provide extra funding to Rotherham Council.

Ms Champion said the council had seen ‘the third highest increase [in the number of children in care] in 2017-18 out of 152 local authorities in England’.

She said Operation Stovewood, which began in 2014 after it emerged at least 1,400 children were abused in the town from 1997 to 2013, had made ‘a significant contribution to this dramatic increase’.

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She said the council estimated the investigation is currently costing it an extra £4.3m a year and is estimated to increase to £7m next year.

Ms Champion said the extra costs were set against a background of a £62m reduction in the council's budget since 2013-14.

The Labour MP said: "If there had been an earthquake affecting the lives of 1,400 children in Rotherham, we would have got emergency funding from the government to help with their recovery.

"However, with no such money forthcoming for child abuse we are largely leaving victims and survivors to get on with the recovery themselves."

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Education minister Nadhim Zahawi said he recognised that Rotherham Council was ‘delivering in very challenging environments’ but said the government was investing millions to protect children across the country, including committing an extra £410m to in adult and child social care in 2019-20.

Ms Champion later said she was ‘frustrated and disappointed"=’ not to secure a commitment for additional funding for Rotherham.