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DfE criticised for failing to understand why demand for children’s social care is on the rise.

A National Audit Office review of children’s care spending has highlighted ministers lack of understanding of the reasons behind the increase in demand for these services.

Since 2010 the number of children taken into care has increased by 15% leading to a national overspend by councils on children’s services by £872m in 2017/18. Against this backcloth the report concludes:

‘Over two years ago we judged that the Department had made poor progress in improving children’s social care services. The Department’s goal is now that all vulnerable children, no matter where they live, should have access to high-quality support by 2022.

While the Department has put in place a programme of reform, it still does not fully understand what is driving demand for children’s social care or why there is such wide variation between local authorities in their children’s social care activity and costs.

It has not yet done the work to tie together available sources of information and therefore lacks a well-informed pathway to achieve its goal.’

The report goes on to comment:

‘While the Department has recognised the need for this analysis, it will not complete the work until summer 2019. Even if its analysis is completed successfully it will be a tall order for the Department to achieve its goal within three years’.

See the full report here