Baby P Fears After Lambeth Care Labelled ‘Inadequate’

A tragedy similar to the case of Baby P is more likely to occur if Lambeth Council continues to slash funding for children in social care, according to a council critic.

Opposition Lib Dem spokesman on children’s services, Councillor Roger Geiss, said he was “deeply worried” that in the wake of the child’s death in Haringey, Lambeth Council was going to cut its budget for children in care by £1.5m over the next two years.

He said he feared the protection of vulnerable children could be jeopardised if budgetary pressures influenced whether or not a child went into care.

But the council says ensuring children were protected was of the “greatest importance” and whenever it was best for a child to be taken into care it would do this regardless of budgets.

A spokeswoman said the reduction in the £33m social care budget was simply because the number of children in care in Lambeth had gone down, that older children had left care and because of fewer unaccompanied young asylum seekers in the borough.

The savings will be ploughed into the councils anti-gang youth programme.

But Coun Geiss said: “The council is essentially asking social workers to reduce the number of children in care and to put that kind of pressure on social workers in the aftermath of the tragedy of Baby P is wrong.

“Social workers should not be put in a position that their judgement on whether a child should go into care could be compromised by the need to meet pressure on a budget.”

“The council is risking a similar tragedy to Baby P if the funding is not there to ensure who needs to go into care should go into care,” he added.

The council spokeswoman said the reduction in the number of children going into care was also a result of rigorous systems to make sure children are safe in their own homes.

Questions over the quality of Lambeth’s children’s services were raised last week after Ofsted published a report into serious case reviews to see what lessons need to be learnt when a child has died or been seriously injured.

Lambeth was the only London borough to have its report classed as “inadequate”.

But the council said this was because of the way the report was written and not the standard of protection given by the council, police and health services.

A council spokeswoman said a recent inspection found safeguarding services in the borough to be sound and of a good standard.

Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Paul McGlone, said it was irresponsible of the Lib Dems to play politics with such a sensitive issue.