Demand on Falkirk services sets costs soaring

A growing elderly population means increased demand for services
A growing elderly population means increased demand for services

A dramatic rise in the number of children and elderly people who need to be looked after is crippling Falkirk’s social work services.

The increased demand for 24-hour home care for older residents and the need to house hundreds of children who have been removed from the family home means social work’s bank balance is in a “critical” condition.

Bosses are now forecasting they will have to deal with a £2.4 million overspend in this financial year.

During an Executive meeting on Tuesday, director of social work Margaret Anderson said: “The situation has significantly changed for social work services.

“We are facing significant increased demand for community care and for children and family services where the pressures are more extreme.

“In this very difficult financial position, we are trying all ways of saving money while delivering the standards required of us.”

Councillors heard that an increasing number of elderly people had led to increased demand for care home places and home help packages.

Ms Anderson also said the council was looking after 247 young people, the highest number in over three years.

She added that 32 residential school placements – including three with secure care – cost social work £2.8 million.

Adding that the pressures were not unique to Falkirk, Ms Anderson said her department was minimising spending, controlling staff costs, scrutinising decisions about high-cost placements and trying to recruit more “in-house” foster carers.

Councillor Linda Gow said: “The cost is extortionate, it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

“The Scottish Government needs to recognise this.”