THE expose by Panorama (May 16) of children’s services was, sadly, not unexpected after years of excellent Hereford Times reporting.

In two of the cases featured, over-zealous social workers put or tried to put children unnecessarily into care.

Normally, reporting on family courts would be contempt of court but the High Court gave permission, hence, the tip of the iceberg.


In Herefordshire, £141.81 is due monthly for an average Band D property; £24.43 pays for “children in care” and £14.78 for “older people in residential/ nursing care” (£15.19 and £13.28 respectively in 2019-20, Herefordshire Now) despite the county’s age profile.

Herefordshire has had a high rate of looked-after children (LAC) despite relatively little deprivation. Nationally, the average cost of an LAC was estimated at £35,000 (in 2016).

Support for struggling families, often temporary, costs a fraction of this amount. There can be a vicious circle: reduced support increases the number of LAC and the extra costs further reduces the amount spent on support.


Overly risk-averse and sometimes, from my experience, misleading social workers have resulted in children in Herefordshire being unnecessarily in care which is detrimental to them and their families. Many children are moved far from home.

Rightly, the council recently increased its investment in children’s services but if money is wasted on unnecessary LAC and care proceedings, the directorate’s problems will persist and children will suffer.

Investing in support and truly working with families will save money and keep more children safely with their families.


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