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Worcestershire Councty Council care charge plan slammed by NSPCC
CONTROVERSIAL plans to charge parents who put children into care have been slammed by one of Britain’s leading anti-cruelty groups.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has attacked Worcestershire County Council and urged it to perform a U-turn on the policy.
The organisation wants the Conservative leadership to change tack over the move, amid fears it could put children in great danger.
As your Worcester News first revealed in March, the cash-strapped authority wants to hit parents with a bill if they are deemed capable of looking after a child themselves.
No other council in the country currently charges for children’s care, but the unprecedented policy is widely expected to come into force once the consultation closes in October.
Tom Rahilly, head of strategy and development at the NSPCC, said he was deeply concerned it could place children at “significant risk”.
He said: “If this council is saying parents should be charged for care services, then they have seriously misjudged the complex needs of often vulnerable families.
“Rather than saving money, this is a policy that could, if copied, end up costing councils far more.
“Families that need support at an early stage will worry that they could face bills in the future and will avoid seeking the help they need. Help and care arriving at a later stage will inevitably cost more, as the problems will often have got much worse.”
The society has objected to it ahead of the consultation coming to an end on Friday, October 11.
Under the policy, social workers will be able to recommend a charge on any children deemed to be “not in crisis”.
They are also considering shifting any outstanding charges onto the child once they turn 16 and have the ability to pay. Council bosses claim the move is not financially motivated, but driven by anecdotal evidence that some parents are too keen to hand over their offspring.
The move has also been attacked by the county council’s Labour group, which is urging a rethink, while describing the proposals as “outrageous”.
Councillor Richard Udall, of Labour, said: “Social workers will become debt collectors, spending time not caring for children but chasing around the county collecting cash.”
Siobhan Williams, the council’s head of children’s social care, said: “We believe a child’s parents should be as fully involved as possible in all aspects of the care and wellbeing of their child and this policy is about supporting that partnership approach.”
She also said there are “rare cases” where parents refuse to rehome a child.
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