Sat watching the news tonight and listening to Gordon Brown address the TUC Conference I sat up shocked when he said there will be cuts in spending but they won't happen until the recovery starts and even then they won't affect front line services, to which I say b.......!! Its already happening to front line services in Wales.
As Lead Member for Childrens Social Services for Wrecsam, this is the situation here:
As at June/July this year the number of Child Protection/Child in Need referrals to Social Services has increased by 88% for the same period the previous year. The numbers on the Child Protection Register are up 40% on the previous year. The number of children that are looked after were up by 17 and the cost of each one of those children per annum was £29,000, which makes a total cost of £500,000. In 2008/09 the Children's Social Services budget was overspent by over £750,000 and that was before the upsurge in demand.
In the circumstances you would expect a possible base budget realignment wouldn't you, especially as the budget for Looked after children has been overspent by an increasing amount over the last 3 years. Next year Children Social Services have to find 3% savings or £300,000 which with the overspend equates to a £Million or 1.25% on a Band D Council Tax.
Apart from raising Council tax what else can we do about it? The answer to me is quite obvious and that is to get the Local Health Board to pay their share. Every year about 15 children are looked after because of serious disabilities and their families cannot cope with the children. The following is an example of the contributions, Wrecsam CBC - £215,000, Wrecsam LHB - £34,000. You can imagine what I had to say when a leading AM suggested that Social Care should go over to Health...I was in a public meeting so I didn't swear; but I did say that that was akin to 'jumping from the frying pan into the fire.' I can't really see the creation of one NHS Trust across North Wales doing anything other than exacberate a bad situation when it comes to funding continuing care for children with disabilities.
Now that I have had my rant, I would say to Messrs Brown and Darling, the cuts have already started...and yes they are affecting frontline services, what else do you expect when you will be cutting £500 million from the block grant to the Assembly next year...doh!