Schedule 1 — Local retention of non-domestic rates

Part of Local Government Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 18th January 2012.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 4:45 pm, 18th January 2012

My hon. Friend makes the valid point that the need for all these services varies across authorities; more to the point it is not within councils’ control. A council cannot control how many elderly people are going to need social care, or how many children are going to need intervention from their children’s department. That is the real problem. There are huge variations in demand for children’s services and educational services across the country, and that is often linked with poverty.

Middlesbrough, which is the ninth most deprived local authority area in England, has almost seven times as many children receiving free school meals as Wokingham. Almost all councils showed a huge increase in referrals and in the taking into care of children following the tragic baby Peter case, which we all know about. That was not under their control, but the differences between the numbers of children in care across the country are still stark. Surrey has 32 looked-after children per 10,000 population, whereas Wokingham has 22. In Middlesbrough, the figure is 104 and in Newcastle it is 100. In Liverpool, there has been a 60% increase in child safeguarding referrals since 2009-10, whereas the average national increase is only 10%.