Cambridgeshire County Council is calling on the Government to give it a fair deal on resources for children’s social care.
The council said: “Across the country referrals to children’s social care have risen most dramatically in rural councils whilst they receive half the money urban councils get to deliver these services.
“It is estimated by the Local Government Association that by 2020 there will be a funding gap in children’s services of at least £2 billion.
“In Cambridgeshire services have come under substantial pressure in recent years with nearly a 50% (48.8%) increase in the number of Looked after Children (LAC) and a 100% increase in the number of children subject to a Child Protection Plan in the past four years.
“We have also seen a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children years – rising from five in 2015 to 67 now. Those children who need care have increasingly complex needs which puts pressure on foster care placements and increases the cost of care.”
Simon Bywater, chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, said: “We work hard to ensure that vulnerable young people do not pay the price for this underfunding and we will always help children in times of crisis and need.
“But increasing pressures in children’s social care mean that the early intervention and preventative work that we know is really valuable can get squeezed.
“We are transforming the ways that we work to tackle the increasing demand but we also want to send a clear message to government to reverse the historical underfunding of rural counties.
“In June 2016 we launched a Children’s Change Programme to re-shape services in order to ensure we make the best use of our resources to meet needs sooner, respond effectively to rising demand.”
The council added: “County councils are the lowest funded of the upper tier councils receiving an average of £292 per resident less than councils in London and £166 less per head than metropolitan boroughs.
“We are joining with other county councils to call for a fairer deal for counties. We also want the Government to take into account the additional costs and challenges of providing services in rural areas. For more information see https://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/.”