Oxford

Oxfordshire social care costs 'rising due to parent failings'

Oxfordshire County Council Image copyright Robin Sones
Image caption Oxfordshire County Council's social care budget has increased from £46m to £86m since 2011

A "lack of parental responsibility" is contributing to rising costs in children's social care in Oxfordshire, a county councillor has claimed.

Conservative Lawrie Stratford told a meeting that Oxfordshire County Council was increasingly helping out parents who were "not doing their job".

The authority's children's social care budget has increased from £46m in 2011 to £86m in the latest financial year.

Labour group leader Liz Brighouse called the comments a "travesty".

The cabinet was discussing a report by the council's director of finance at a meeting on Tuesday.

It found that "demand for children's social care continues to rise beyond expectations" and reported an overspend of £8.5m on children's services, with £4.6m relating to social care.

'Absolute travesty'

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Stratford, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "There's a lack of parental responsibility. We're having to pick up more and more costs than in previous generations.

"More and more we're expected to step in for parents when they're not doing their job.

"Society as a whole is really letting down our children."

But Ms Brighouse called the comments "really ill-informed".

She told the BBC: "To actually apportion blame in relation to these children I think is an absolute travesty. I could not believe it when I heard it.

"We've got some very, very vulnerable families, and parents need to be supported, and actually very often parents don't get the support they need."

After the meeting, Mr Stratford said: "Part of the problem, I guess, is that when I was a lad, mums stayed at home for much longer. There was less evidence of family break-up.

"And I'm being mindful I'm not picking on the ladies and mums, but the other issue is we have a lot more absent fathers."

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