Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Cuts 'will cause more child deaths'

Sharon Shoesmith has warned more vulnerable children will die because of funding cuts
Sharon Shoesmith has warned more vulnerable children will die because of funding cuts
Baby P was killed despite 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over the final eight months of his life

More vulnerable children will die at the hands of their "desperate" parents as a result of funding cuts, disgraced former children's services boss Sharon Shoesmith has warned.

Ms Shoesmith, who lost her job after the Baby P tragedy, suggested that all the "good developments" in social care since then will be undone by a "dreadful" financial situation.

She issued the warning in her first national public speech since her dismissal in 2008.

She also told the North of England Education Conference in Blackpool that she was still struggling to live with the death of Peter Connelly more than three years after he died.

She told delegates: "All of these good developments we've had and now we've got this dreadful financial situation, this dreadful financial settlement.

"Child poverty will rise and I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think everyone now expects that these cuts are going to hit hard on vulnerable children.

"Yes, child poverty will rise, but if we stop measuring it how will we know? It all does translate into higher risk for children, the risk of more children dying at the hands of their desperate parents."

Ms Shoesmith cited the review into social care and the scrapping of many quangos - which she dubbed an "hallelujah moment" - as examples of positive changes.

Addressing Baby P's death directly at the start of her speech, Ms Shoesmith said: "I want to start by saying that the murder of Peter Connelly when I was director of children's services in Haringey is something I struggle to live with every day, as do the social workers who knew him. There was never any doubt about how sorry and distressed we were by his brutal murder."

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