Rising demand for children’s social care as austerity bites, says Sheffield Labour

Children are among the hardest hit by austerity – with the life expectancy of the poorest girls falling for the first time since the 1920s, says Sheffield Labour Party.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:52 pm
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:58 pm
Coun Olivia Blake says children are among the hardest hit by austerity

Labour launched an attack on the Conservative Government at a recent meeting of the full council, damning them for nine years of austerity.

The council needs to make £30 million worth of savings – taking the total of savings and cuts to £460m.

Over the next financial year, the council will use of £11 million of reserves to sustain social care amid cuts from Government funding and rising pressures on the services.

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Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake said: “Each year since 2010 it is getting harder to set the budget and we are forced to implement a programme of cuts which increasingly stretch our organisation to its limits.

“These cuts have a real impact. We are seeing the life expectancy of the poorest girls in England fall for the first time since the 1920s. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation directly links this to the underfunding of health and social care.”

Coun Blake said the social care crisis continued to unfold: “Last year Local Government Authority research revealed that nearly 90 per cent of councils were spending more on children’s social care than planned.

“This is attributed to rising demand. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 124 per cent rise in the number of enquiries where local authorities believe a child may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

“The number of children needing child protection plans has increased from 26,400 to more than 50,000 over the same period – an increase of more than 23,000 children.

“Nationally the number of young people subject to child protection enquiries increased by 140 per cent in the last decade.”

The Liberal Democrats said income tax should be increased to help fund social care.

Their deputy leader Coun Simon Clement-Jones said: “We condemn the current Government’s approach to funding the NHS and adult social care and believe that a new long term funding settlement for social care is desperately needed to sustain vital services, particularly for places like Sheffield which had a relatively low council tax base but a high level of need.

“The Lib Dems proposal of raising income tax by a penny in the pound will meet this need for a long term funding settlement and greatly relieve the pressure on adult social care and the NHS.”

The Greens also condemned the cuts to local authority funding. Coun Douglas Johnson said: “Sheffield’s citizens have suffered through continual cuts to council funding and consequently to services to the public.

“However, long-term, outsourced contracts Sheffield Council has with big private businesses have not taken an equivalent share of the cuts.”