COMMENT: Children in need: bring back the cash for their care 

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The number of children in care has reached a record high, with 90 young people entering the care system daily.

Amid continuing cuts to children’s centres and local family support services, the number of looked-after children in England and Wales reached 72,670 in the 12 months to March 2017, the last figures available. That was the biggest annual surge of children in care in seven years.

These figures highlight the need for the Chancellor to use his autumn budget to address the £2bn funding gap facing children’s services by 2020, or place a growing number of children at risk.

The rise in the numbers of children entering care has been put down to problems in households such as poverty, poor housing and substance misuse, which experts say have been made worse by cuts to local services to tackle them.

As we report today, this is not a problem confined to London, Manchester or Birmingham – it’s having a big impact in Portsmouth too. Such is the problem that money spent on children and families is the biggest drain on city council coffers with a probable overspend of more than £5m by next April.

Lib Dem council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says: ‘The biggest issue is children's social care which is a growing problem this year as we have more children in care. The same happened last year.’

Such is the crisis, plus a dearth of local foster carer placements, that he reveals the council is having to place children in York. ‘If we could fund more local foster parents it would save a lot of money,’ he adds.

This problem is nationwide, the knock-on from 2008’s crash and ensuing council cuts. Councils like Portsmouth, find themselves in this position through no fault of their own. It’s now time for the government to do the right thing and restore that cash – for the sake of our children.