Child protection referrals more than double in a decade, LGA warns

12 Jan 18

A child was referred to local authority children's services every 49 seconds last year, the Local Government Association has said, with referrals totalling 646,120.

More than 500 child protection investigations were started on average each day in 2016-17, increasing from 200 a decade ago.

These figures reinforced the argument for the government to fill the £2bn funding gap that faces children's services, said Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board.

Watts said: “We will always encourage people to refer any concerns about children to their local authority as soon as possible, so that the situation can be investigated and support or immediate protection put in place where necessary.  

“But while these figures are encouraging as a reflection of heightened awareness and identification of child abuse, they also highlight the staggering scale of the pressures that have now been building on children's services for a number of years.”

He said the funding gap would reach £2bn by 2020 and “unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention, many more vulnerable children remain at risk”.

CIPFA warned in November that children’s services had overtaken adult social care as the chief concern of upper tier council finance heads.  

Commenting on the LGA report, Heather Wakefield, head of local government at Unison, said social workers were struggling to cope with their workloads cause “huge stress and anxiety”.

She added: “Children can't be protected from abuse on the cheap. The government must give councils the cash they need to recruit more child protection staff and keep all children safe.”

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