Adult social care is in crisis: a time bomb that has ticked in the background for so long it has become part of the rhythm of local government.
With soaring demand, dwindling resources and political paralysis when it comes to solutions it has become an impossible conundrum, constantly kicked into touch for fear of offending the voting public. The mythical adult social care Green Paper will remain in the shadows while there is any hint of a General Election in the offing.
But the state of adult social care has been accepted and well documented. It is well within the public psyche, cited in the national media and even acknowledged in the Government’s spending announcements – albeit with the chancellor counting council tax rises within his own ‘gift’ to the sector.
What is less well documented is the woeful financial state of children’s services. Faced with the same austerity obstacles as our friends in adult social care, children’s services are now drowning in a tsunami of issues – as has been well documented this week by the NLGN’s Padwa Tjoa and Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield.
Children’s services departments have always been subject to caution in the aftermath of high-profile children’s deaths, but now they are tackling increased awareness of child sexual exploitation. Special education needs and disability provision has grown to such an extent it now faces a review.
There are pressures from radicalisation, county lines, increased knife crime and gangs – the list continues. As the funding falls, the problems propagate with the lack of provision and early intervention.
But the true scandal is the burgeoning numbers of kids taken into care due to poverty. In modern day Britain, we are returning to the roots of the Victorian workhouse, provoked by austerity, family breakdown, in-work poverty and the woeful execution of welfare reforms.
If ever there was a need for early intervention, this is it. Taking kids into care – with all the financial and social costs that accompany it – should not be the result of poor pay or problems with Universal Credit.
Spending more on services to stop the rising costs – and a return to the Victorian era – must be worth the investment.