An Open letter to sir Albert Bore has challenged him to fully disclose how far the new investment in children’s social care will close the gap on Birmingham’s relative underspend on safeguarding services.
The Le Grand report and previous Annual Audit letters from the Council’s auditors have identified that the Council has historically spent significantly less than other comparable Local Authorities on social care services.
The Le Grand review of the improvement plans for the Department was commissioned by the Department for Education and found that ‘the average spend among the 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of deprived children is £779 per child, while Birmingham’s is £640 per head, the 6th lowest’.
The letter asks the Council leader to respond to comments from Lord Norman Warner. the Government appointed Commissioner, that the improvement plan requires a significantly greater level of investment than that budgeted for by the Council over the next three years.
Le Grand Review found that the shortfall in funding had probably led to fewer children at risk coming to the attention of pressurised safeguarding services.
The letter has been sent by the West Midlands Social Work Action Network, Birmingham against the cuts and the Birmingham Branch of UNISON which represents Social workers employed by the Council
Sir Albert is asked to: ‘Promptly publish the detailed analysis of those unidentified children at risk, the anticipated future demand for services required to safeguard and care for those children and the required level of resources for those services?’
Also in question is the decision by the ruling Labour Group to cut children’s services care budgets by £11m in 2013-14 in the wake of a critical OFSTED inspection of safeguarding services and against the advice of the Council’s Auditors.
Simon Cardy for West Midlands Social Work Action Network commented: The people of Birmingham need to know that critical services to safeguard and care for vulnerable children in this city are properly resourced for the future given the history of underfunding. Le Grand suggests that due to a shortfall of resources that some children at risk were not protected when they needed to be. Sir Albert needs to be completely transparent on this key issue.
Godfrey Webster secretary of Birmingham against the Cuts said “It is essential that the City Council proposes a budget and staffing levels sufficient to ensure the safety of Birmingham’s children. It is then clearly the government’s responsibility if children suffer or die because insufficient grants are provided to fund this level of service.”