Wrexham Council facing a big social services spending challenge

WREXHAM Council is facing a “big challenge” in sustaining and developing its social services in the face of possible spending cuts. That is the warning from chief social care officer Andrew Figiel.

He was speaking about his department’s annual report, due to be considered by members of the council’s executive board next Tuesday, which outlines the work done in providing care services for both adults and children.

Mr Figiel said: “We have made generally good progress in many areas.”

However, he added: “The big challenge is how we sustain, develop and improve services in an economic setting where funding is uncertain and there is pressure on local authorities to reduce budgets and make cuts.”

Council leader Aled Roberts said: “Wrexham has a record over the past four years of increasing the percentage spend on childrens’ and adults’ social services. Our aim is to ensure that as much expenditure as possible goes through to the front line.”

Mr Figiel said the annual report highlighted a 22 per cent rise in referrals to children’s social services, much of which was due to publicity over the Baby Peter case in the south of England.

During the year there was also a 47 per cent increase in assessments of vulnerable children, which Mr Figiel said had added to the pressure.

There were still a number of management support issues yet to be addressed, he pointed out..

Adult services had also been under pressure, due to the increasing number of vulnerable elderly people, many suffering from dementia.

However, Mr Figiel said the emphasis had been on measures to allow people to stay in their own home for as long as possible.

The department, he said, was particularly proud of the fact that Wrexham was one of just three authorities chosen by the Welsh Assembly Government to try out a scheme aimed at protecting the children of parents with substance abuse problems.