Birmingham's children’s services chief has warned that the city may not secure the £123 million funding it needs to properly protect children at risk of harm.
Cabinet member for children, young people and families, Brigid Jones said that indications from Government were that Birmingham may not get the extra £41m a year funding over three years to support the crisis-hit child protection department.
Birmingham children’s commissioner Lord Warner has said that the council needs to invest more funding in front line social work staff, fostering and care home places for vulnerable children.
Coun Jones said: “We understand the money might not be forthcoming. I don’t think the Government understands the scale of the financial challenge facing the council.
“We need £41 million a year - that is about five times the amount raised by Children in Need in one night.”
She said that since last year there had been a 50 per cent increase in child protection referrals - in part due to social workers, police, schools and health services working more closely to identify children at risk.
The council has put a bid in and had high hopes after Doncaster, which has had similar issues, was given extra funding. But months later there has been no indication that the money will come.
Lord Warner was appointed by the Department for Education to oversee the department following a string of damning reports into its poor performance which has left children at risk of harm and social work staff overloaded with cases. The department has been officially rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted since 2009.
And the council has asked the Government for extra money to cover the cost of improvement but it seems that this is likely to be refused. It means that with child protection a priority the council will have to find the extra money on top of the expected £150 million cuts due in 2015/16 – leaving other services facing cuts.
Last week the Government’s financial watchdog National Audit Office issued a report saying that half of councils are at risk of financial failure within five years. It concluded that Government had failed to appreciate the impact of cuts.
But the Department for Communities and Local Government insisted that the cuts are fair and every part of the public sector needs to shoulder the burden of cuts.