A report shows that York does not have the funds to look after the city’s children as councillors say they need more support from central government.
The children, culture and communities scrutiny committee met on Tuesday (October 17), and discussed a report into the finances around children’s services in York.
It showed that there has been “significant improvement” in children and education services’ financial position due to a “substantial reduction in the use of agency staff and the cost of placements compared to 2022/23.”
However, it also adds that inflation is making the situation more difficult and there is not the infrastructure to adequately look after York’s children.
The report states: “As previously reported, the number of children looked after in York has consistently been at a higher level than the budget was built to accommodate.
“The number at the beginning of the financial year was 267, at the end of June it was 263.
“Placement budgets are predicted to be overspent by a total of £2,608,000, which is a significant improvement from the 2023/23 outturn which was £5,651,000 overspent.
“However, the pressure on this budget continues and is partly due to the limited market for children’s placements and the statutory requirements placed on local authorities to meet children’s needs, coupled with inflationary pressures which could worsen the position.”
When asked if there could be further support from the Department for Education, Richard Hartle, head of children and education finance, said: “They haven’t done fully so far, I suppose is the short answer.”
Cllr Bob Webb, executive member for children, young people and education, said: “Let’s raise that base budget.
“I think that’s important for children.
“They are our future, they’re the best of us and we should be spending as much as we can on them.”
He added that a 2022 independent review of children’s social care said more funds were needed “to update our care system and make it work for young people.”
Cllr Webb said: “To date, it has been ignored, shall we say, by the national government.”
He added: “We’re moving in the right direction but it would be great if we had more money wouldn’t it?”
The City of York Council currently has a forecasted overspend of £11.4m and is taking measures to reduce current expenditure.
The council has continued to see recurring overspends across both adult and children’s social care.
But there has been a reduction in the underlying overspend within the children and education directorate of over £3,000,000 compared to the 2022/23 final outturn position.
The report states: “This is extremely positive and is against the national trend of ever-increasing overspends in children’s services.
“However, costs are increasing due to inflation, an increase in safeguarding activity reflecting greater complexity of needs and the challenges of a dysfunctional children’s social care market.”