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MP begs for help as abuse probe puts Rotherham 'on its knees'

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Rotherham MBC is said to face extra costs of up to £7m because of a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into past child sexual exploitation, but has received only an extra £500,000 from the government.

That claim came from the town’s Labour MP Sarah Champion, in a parliamentary debate on the town’s children’ service.

She said the investigation, named Operation Stovewood, was the largest of its kind the NCA had undertaken.

Ms Champion told parliament: “Operation Stovewood has placed unprecedented and unbudgeted additional pressures on the authority.

“The council estimates the investigation is currently costing an additional £4.3m per year, which is estimated to increase to £7m next year, yet only £500,000 per annum of additional money has been forthcoming.” The council faced a £16m overspend for children and young people’s services for the current financial year.

She added: “If there had been an earthquake affecting the lives of 1,400 children in Rotherham, we would have got emergency funding from the government to help with their recovery. However, with no such money forthcoming for child abuse, we are largely leaving victims and survivors to get on with the recovery themselves.”

Rotherham had experienced a significant increase in demand, with the number of children in care having increased over three years from 407 to 634, England’s third highest increase.

However, the council’s children services were rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in January last year for the first time since the abuse scandal. 

Addressing children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi, Ms Champion said: ”Will he please just tell me whether he is going to give us additional funding? We are on our knees in Rotherham and begging him for support.”

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I assure the House that my department is continuing to work closely with the sector to build the strongest evidence base for long-term children’s services funding as part of the spending review.

The government intervention in Rotherham ended in September last year.  

 

 

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