Look at it this way - October 19, 2012

0
Have your say

There’s only so far you can go down the path of everything is hunky dory in Blackpool – and everywhere else is just as bad/good depending on your perception or what TV programme you’re watching.

Not in a week which has established that family breakdown will cost Blackpool, already the sixth most deprived district in the country, more than £15m this year.

For pity’s sake, the town has the HIGHEST proportion of children in care in the country.

And that’s local kids, not children bussed in to Blackpool by other authorities – not that it should really matter.

The strain on local services means that 100 children are currently placed outside Blackpool which adds to the costs involved.

But make no mistake, this is our own home grown issue and we can take no pride in it.

We can’t blame it on the tourists. Certain factors play their part such as transience and social blight but it’s not the whole story.

And we can expect the figure to rise if we don’t do more to support families and encourage foster carers to safeguard the most vulnerable members of society.

A specialist homelessness campaigner told me the other day that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, but the band of poor is getting wider.

It’s now spanning more of the so called middle classes and not just the stereotypes we see on 999: What’s Your Emergency? on telly most Monday nights.

Joblessness, for all the tweaked statistics to the contrary, places greater pressures on family life than ever before, just as actually having a job is pretty darn tough because more are working harder for longer to justify their pay packet knowing there’s a queue of unemployed itching for the chance to take over.

And those who suffer are families, particularly kids, as relationships or finances begin to crumble.

There’s been a rise of almost 50 per cent in the number of kids looked after by the local authority in the last five years.

That’s DOUBLE the national average.

But statistics mean little until you equate them to real kids with the potential to have their futures blighted by the rotten hand life may have dealt them by birth, by postcode lottery, or by having parents simply too ill equipped to cope with whatever life has thrown at them too.

In real terms, we’re talking about 455 kids looked after by the council – at about £34k per child.

The maths may add up but the equation isn’t as simple as the figure suggests – particularly in a town which is already Britain’s lowest pay blackspot.

Some kids with multiple needs require far higher maintenance than those at the bottom of the pile, in terms of their cost to public sector finances, who just need someone prepared to show them a little tenderness and care and provide stability and structure to their lives.

Is it too much to ask?