Children’s services per capita spend down 20%

15 Jun 18

Spending per head on local authority-led children’s services will regress 20% to 2005 levels, according to a report out this week.

The report, commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner For England and produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, also found that spending on prevention and youth services has been cut by 60% over the past decade.

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “Councils across the country have worked incredibly hard to protect funding for the most vulnerable in our communities, despite significant and ongoing government funding cuts.

“However, this report paints a stark picture of the reality facing councils, who cannot keep providing this standard of support without being forced to take difficult decisions and cut back on early intervention services, which help to prevent children entering the care system in the first place.”

Almost half of the entire £8.6bn children’s services budget in England is now spent on 73,000 children in the care system, leaving half the funding to cover 11.7 million children, according to IFS analysis.

The IFS also identified a shortfall in education spending for 16- to 18-year-olds by 2020, which will fall to the lowest levels in 30 years, despite spending for children aged four to 16 remaining stable.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “This analysis shows that while overall public spending on children has been broadly maintained over the past 20 years, millions of vulnerable children who are not entitled to statutory support will be missing out because of the huge cost of helping a small number of children who are in crisis.

“I hope this analysis will help to move the debate on from one simply about the amount we spend on children, to a debate about how we spend it.

“Spending allocations should be seen through the prism of the child, not the prism of which bit of Whitehall thinks it can spend it best.”

Read Rob Whiteman’s blog, Hope for children’s services amid the cuts.

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