THE deputy leader of Wirral Labour group is among 20 Northwest councillors signing a cross-party letter asking the Chancellor for more money to tackle a growing crisis in the children's social care sector.

Cllr Bernie Mooney joined cabinet members from Blackpool, Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, Bury, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cumbria, Halton, Knowsley, Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside and Warrington in sending their letter of concerns to Phillip Hammond.

It claims that there are more than 13,000 looked after children in the region, a 20-year high, and the greatest number of children in care of any region in England.

The letter adds there has been a rise of 12% since 2013 alone, double the 6% increase in the rest of the country, adding that there has been a £45m increase in expenditure on residential care placements this year alone.

Cllr Mooney, cabinet member for children and families, said the effects of austerity continue to hurt those most in need, causing the numbers of children and families needing help to rise to unprecedented levels.

She added: "This level of need and demand for services from our most vulnerable children and families has never been seen before.

"Since the Government took office, there has been a steady reduction in early intervention services for children.

"Family support services have been cut to the bone and children's centres have been shutting at a rate of six per month in the UK and the situation is unsustainable and putting vulnerable young people at risk.

"It's time the Government listened to councils across the region all warning of the same risk with young people's lives by not acting now."