THE leader of Newport council has criticised the Welsh Government over a letter which voiced disappointment that the number of children in care has increased.

Cllr Jane Mudd said she was “deeply disappointed” to receive the letter from the deputy minister for health and social services, Julie Morgan.

In the letter sent to all councils, Ms Morgan said a four per cent increase in the number of children coming into care across Wales last year was “very disappointing”.


The Welsh Government has said reducing the number of children coming into care is a priority, with reduction plans in place from 2019 to 2022.

But at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Mudd said the council has a “moral and ethical duty” – as well as a legal responsibility – to ensure children get the best care possible.

“I was deeply disappointed to receive a letter from the deputy minister with such a negative tone,” Cllr Mudd said.

“This letter, on the back of the past eight months, does not reflect the increasing challenges faced by families or the work across all agencies to try to mitigate some of those pressures.

“I do understand this is a target area for the Welsh Government, but I was deeply disappointed given the efforts and the examples of good practice we have heard about from our colleagues.”

There are currently around 380 children in care in Newport, with numbers having remained stable over the past 18 months.

As of March 31, there were 7,180 looked after children in Wales, with the rate per 10,000 “significantly higher” than in England.

Councils in Wales set out to achieve a reduction of 2.9 per cent last year, but the number instead increased by four per cent.

Ms Morgan said a small number of councils had seen “large increases which are adversely affecting the national picture”.

Cllr Paul Cockeram, Newport council’s cabinet member for social services, said while numbers in the city are currently stable, an increase may be expected due to the impact of coronavirus.

He said: “We are not seeing those numbers moving but the outturn of what is going to happen with Covid – with some of these children being kept at home and no schooling for some of them – it’s going to be a real issue.

“It’s not now but what is going to happen in a couple of months time with the fall-out of what’s happening with Covid.”

Cllr Cockeram added that “no one wants to bring children into care”, but he said councils have to “make sure the child is looked after properly first”.

“We share the Welsh Government’s ambition to keep children out of care and we will continue to everything possible to support families to realise that,” he added.

“However, keeping children safe is our main priority, whether they are at home, in foster care or in a residential setting.”