Community Care have reported a 20% rise in funding from the S.17 budget (an emergency fund available to Social Services to support children in need under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989).
This is clear evidence of the rise in poverty and social deprivation since the introduction of cuts to welfare benefits and the rise in sanctions introduced under the previous (coalition) government.
There is clearly a worrying trend here, but it is also evident that while savings appear to have been made by the government in one area of expenditure, there have been consequential rising costs in another. It is with huge relief that George Osborne has, in today’s financial statement, withdrawn the proposed swinging cuts to Tax Credits, or at least to allow rising wages under the new ‘living wage’ to come into effect first.
Just imagine how much greater the impact would have been on local authority budgets if it were not for food banks. But food banks cannot fill the whole gap – nappies, travel, clothing, including school uniforms, toiletries and other essential household items, or cash for electric and gas meters, are not covered.
Picking up these costs is still cheaper for the local authority than taking a child into foster care – which they would have to do if the alternative is that the child is being classified as physically neglected because the parent cannot adequately feed or clothe their child.
I’ll say no more – for social workers reading this I’m merely teaching my grandmother to suck eggs – and anyway, the article says it all better than I can.