Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Underfunding or Overspending...decide for yourself

I have been Lead Member for Children and Young People in Wrecsam County Borough Council for just over 18 months and most of my time is spent attending meetings to try and get the Safeguarding and Support budget in line. This budget has historically been overspent or in my view underfunded, but how do I prove its an underfunding and not overspending? Perhaps the best way is to compare budgets with similar authorities but there is a big problem; most Local Authorities have one Social Services Department covering both Adult and Children Social Care and to try and disaggregate the budgets is not an exact science. In Wrecsam we have an Integrated Children's Services and a separate Adult Social Care Department, so its nigh impossible to reliably compare, say Flintshire's spend on Children's Social Care and Wrecsam's. One of the few authorities in Wales who have an Integrated Children's Services like Wrecsam is Sir Gar (Carmarthenshire). A comparison of funding between Wrecsam and Sir Gar on Children's Social Care revealed some surprises:

Sir Gar's Children's Social Care Budget 2008/09 £15,685,697
Wrecsam CBC Children's Social Care Budget 2008/09 £ 9,675,845.

Population 0-18 yrs Sir Gar 37,772
Population 0-18 yrs Wrecsam 29,984

Overspend Sir Gar, 2008/09 £424,747
Overspend Wrecsam 2008/09 £930,000

Budget per head of population 0-18 Sir Gar £415.
Budget per head of population 0-18 Wrecsam £322.

Clearly this is not the whole story what I haven't done is compare Sir Gar and Wrecsam's total budget for 2008/09 and calculate it per head but I doubt if its this wide; which points towards a historical underfunding of Children's Social Care in Wrecsam.


Pelagius said...

Tough job you've got. I fully support integrated chldrens' services, otherwise elderly voters get more than their fair share. Looked-after children are the worst treated of all. One council set their educational target as 1 'O' Level! What's yours? Why can't they have university targets?

If you haven't already done so, I'd put your budget concerns firmly on the record, in writing, again and again. And why not ask the Audit Commission to do a comparative study for you? They will have the facts. So if the sh*t hits the fan . . . And, if you win, you will help more children.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

As Chair of Corporate Parenting I should know what our educational achievement targets are for LAC but I'll have to get back to you on that one!