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Social Services: Children

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account she has taken of concerns raised by local authorities about the ability of the new Children’s Social Services formula, used in the 2008-11 local government funding settlement, to assess accurately the complex needs of children in urban areas. (227235)

The children’s formula is based on extensive research by experienced independent researchers and used the 2003 Children in Need survey, which contains data on children’s social service clients in almost every social service authority in England. It is calculated using up to date indicators of need and is based on research from within 141 local authorities. The new formula therefore better reflects the current patterns of relative need and the cost drivers for children’s social services than the old formula it replaces.

London councils have argued that the formula is systematically biased against councils with the highest needs. However, the consideration of so-called ‘unmet need’ was part of the terms of reference of the research project, and was examined as thoroughly as possible by the researchers. They did not consider this issue impacted sufficiently seriously on the robustness of the formula to cast doubt on its overall reliability.