STOPPING increasing numbers of children coming into the council's care in Torfaen has been agreed as a key priority by councillors.

Torfaen council's cabinet agreed the second phase of the authority's T22 transformation programme last week, with children's services one of three main priorities in the project.

The number of looked after children has steadily risen in Torfaen over recent months - from 378 in June last year to 419 at the beginning of this month.

Chief executive Alison Ward said the rise is bringing escalating cost pressures to the authority.

"If we are going to tackle children's services we have to stop that trajectory into ever increasing costs because we are heading towards unsustainability at the moment," Ms Ward said.

Out of the five Gwent councils, Torfaen has had the highest number of children in its care since 2014.

While Blaenau Gwent's numbers have stabilised though, Torfaen's have continued to rise.


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Ms Ward said the issue "can't just be about demographics", adding that the council needed to urgently address the issue.

"It's not just about cost, it's about the life chances of children," she added.

"Being a looked after child is not the best outcome for a child - the best outcome is that we intervene early and prevent that child needing to have statutory services."

Cllr Mandy Owen, executive member for children and young people, said early intervention was key.

One of the aims of the transformation project is to stop the rate of increase, while at the same time continuing to keep children and young people safe.

Other priority areas identified in the T22 project include customer and digital and support services, bringing savings of £1million per year in each of the two service areas.

Council leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt said: "In order to protect critical frontline services like schools, care for the vulnerable and a cleaner, greener Torfaen, we have identified the biggest, most complex and urgent challenges facing the council.

"If we are to meet these challenges in the current climate of extremely tight resources, we will have to do things differently and do different things, in order to help us achieve some big financial and non-financial benefits.

"At the same time, we have key priorities that we want to protect, so that we keep what is best about local services."

Other benefits the T22 project could bring include reduced duplication across services.