DfE ‘failing to understand’ rising children’s social care demand

The government has been criticised by the National Audit Office for failing to understand why demand for children’s social care is increasing. Since 2010 the number of children taken into care has risen by 15 per cent and in 2017/18 the national overspend by councils on children’s social care was £872m. But a National Audit Office (NAO) review of children’s social care spending found that ministers do not know why demand has grown. They also lack an understanding of why there is such a wide variation in local spending, which ranges from £566 to £5,166 per child a year. The Department for Education has commissioned research to explain the growth in demand and local variation in December 2017 but this will not be ready until this summer, says the report. The government has estimated that 41 per cent of the increased demand is due to population growth but has so far failed to explain in detail what other factors are influencing demand. The NAO review suggests that different strategies to tackling demand by councils may be a large factor. Deprivation could be another. Read more.