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Social service referrals have increased by up to 40% in some of England’s most deprived communities since the pandemic began. Some local authorities are anticipated to overspend by up to £12m on children’s services this year as families continue to face problems arising from financial pressure, mental health problems and domestic violence.

Areas such as Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Hull, Knowlesley and parts of London have all seen sharp increases in the number of referrals to children’s services, leading to a shortage of foster placements. This has therefore led to more children being placed in private costly placements.

The deterioration in services has resulted in more children requiring specialised mental health support. For example, there has been a 15% increase of children in Birmingham requiring mental health placements at a cost of over £5,000 per week.

There has also been a growing trend of large groups of brothers and sisters becoming looked after children, often arising from parental substance misuse. Placing siblings is becoming increasingly difficult, meaning large sibling groups are often separated in different placements.

Sadly, the rise in the number of looked after children and children in care has resulted in more children being subjected to abuse and neglect. If you have suffered abuse or neglect, our experienced Abuse Claims team headed by Natalie Marrison are here to help. For a confidential discussion, please contact the Ramsdens Abuse team on 0113 877 1834 or email