Blackpool council to cut jobs and raise tax to fund children services
The council for Blackpool, the seventh most deprived local authority in England, will cut 75 jobs and raise council tax by 4 per cent, the maximum allowed, to pay for children’s services.
Figures show that the cost of social care in Blackpool accounts for over three-quarters of all spending.
Since 2012, Ofsted have judged the council as “inadequate” on several occasions.
In their most recent report, Ofsted said there was a risk of “significant harm” for vulnerable children. The report identified “key weaknesses” in the provision of support services for children and found that children were left to “live in situations of chronic neglect for long periods of time.”
Although a more recent monitoring visit found “some improvements”, it also stated that staff shortages, and an inexperienced workforce, were preventing progress being made.
Since 2011, Blackpool has had to reduce its spending by £150 million while having the highest number of children in care per capita in England.
The area also has three times the average amount of young people with child protection plans.
In order to meet this demand, and improve its performance, these changes will boost spending on children’s care from 48 per cent of the council’s total budget to 76 per cent.
This level of spending is not an anomaly.
Analysis, conducted by the Guardian and the Local Government Association, found that almost 90 per cent of local authorities overspent on children’s social care in 2017-2018, in part caused by the rising number of children being taken into care.
In that year, councils went over budget by a combined £807 million as the number of children being taken into care hit a ten-year high.
Announcing the council’s measures, Blackpool council leader Simon Blackburn said: “It is absolutely right that we spend money that is needed to protect and care for our must vulnerable residents but that does come at a price.”