Oxfordshire’s children’s services chief speaks to MPs about national trends and children in care

Increasing numbers of children coming into care across England and the associated costs were the subject of a parliamentary debate at which Oxfordshire’s Children’s Services Director Lucy Butler spoke.

Lucy was invited to address the 16 MPs who sit on the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster alongside Cath McEvoy, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council and Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive at Family Rights Group.

The committee scrutinises the value for money—the economy, efficiency and effectiveness—of public spending and generally holds the government and its civil servants to account for the delivery of public services.

In Oxfordshire the budget for children’s social care was £46m in 2011 – but by 2023 it is forecast to be £95m.

Lucy said: “It was good to be able to discuss at length of all the issues and pressures that have arisen over the last decade. Here in Oxfordshire the number of children in care has gone up by 76 per cent and other areas of the country have also risen.

“We already know that central Government is very much aware of the trends but the fact that this debate took place with such a level of detail meant I was able to leave the hearing confident that those in power at Westminster are aware of what we deal with at a local level.

“We know that there is a big spending review going on at national level and making sure the issues and increased costs are clearly understood and absorbed is very important to us in local government.

“MPs were clearly interested to hear about the complexity of our work and how councils are working together more collaboratively to understand the factors that lead children to coming in to care, the types of care that they are in and how joining together that information and analysing it will enable us as a group to work better with the market in terms of provision for children in care.”

A link to full the debate from Monday, February 4 can be found here .