Politics Magazine

The Cruelty of Worcestershire County Council

Posted on the 14 August 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

Worcestershire County Council has achieved something amazing. Something that has not only stunned us all, but something that has stunned us again with the little attention it has received. If you thought that Wandsworth Council was nasty for introducing fees for children to use a local park, then this is one thousand times worse.  Worcestershire County Council wants to charge children in its care the costs of looking after them.  Social workers will  be instructed to assess cared-for 16 year olds for their potential to repay up to £10,000 a year for the care the Council has provided for them through their childhood. Yes, social workers will not be able to focus on providing care for children as they see fit, but will now be forced to have budgets and repayments at the backs of their minds as well. Though the proposal has not been fully detailed, it seems that the Council would bill these teenagers after their 16th birthday and seek repayments from the moment they enter paid employment.

In its defence, the Council has said that it would only charge children who had been taken into care, but whose parents refused to take them back once they were rehabilitated and fit parents once more. So that’s alright then. Because a local council needs to balance its budget, it feels it’s acceptable to penalise children for the misfortunes and/or failures of their parents that has resulted in a traumatic uprooting and later abandonment. Indeed, if that’s the mentality of the carer of these children, I dread to think what impact penny-pinching and stinginess has had in their upbringing. I thought that we live in a civilised and relatively prosperous nation, but clearly I’m quite mistaken.

Most of us benefit from the individual attention of at least one parent (or guardian) throughout our childhoods, financial and emotional support through university and, if we’re lucky, even help in buying our first home. Those who have gone through the care system rarely enjoy such help. In places like Worcestershire they seem to be regarded as liabilities who must be provided with as little as possible for as short a time as possible. To have your entire life governed by such a system must feel terrible, as must being saddled with vast debts before you’ve even reached adulthood for the privilege. I will go further: this scummy proposal could only emanate from totally heartless and cruel people. I apologize if this sounds emotive, but I am not the only one who feels strongly about the matter.

If the Council feels that it has cut everything else as much as it can; raised as much revenue as it possibly can (which I honestly doubt- it should  quadruple Council Tax if that is what it comes to), then it should simply declare itself unable to set a balanced budget and borrow any shortfall. There is no justification for charging children for their care under any circumstances whatsoever. And so I conclude this article with a call for David Cameron  to censure the Worcestershire Conservative Party; the councillors who drew up the policy to withdraw it and resign from any senior posts; and for anybody reading this to spread the word about this national scandal, in whatever small way you can.

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