Council’s child budget under ‘extreme pressure’

Council chief executive Martin Kimber
Council chief executive Martin Kimber

Rotherham Council’s child protection budget faces ‘extreme pressures’ as a result of council cutbacks, the author of the town’s child sex abuse scandal report has warned.

Professor Alexis Jay’s report into child sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013 said funding of safeguarding services has improved at the council in recent years - but the authority faces considerable financial challenges to maintain them.

The authority is in the process of having its budget cut in real terms by 33 per cent between 2010 and 2016, compared to an average 20 per cent cut for English councils.

Council chief executive Martin Kimber said the authority has tried to protect safeguarding services while its overall budget has been cut.

Prof Jay’s report did say there had been significant improvements in the allocation of funding compared to the past.

The inquiry revealed that, from the early 2000s, Rotherham had problems in recruiting social workers - with 43 per cent of posts empty in 2008. By 2009, one in every two manager posts was also vacant. But the report said that, by 2013, Rotherham had reduced its vacancy rate to just four per cent, well below the national average.