Children’s services ‘at breaking point’

26 Feb 19

Children’s services in England are at “breaking point” as funding has been slashed by nearly a third since 2010, charities have warned.

Analysis by a coalition of children’s charities found that central government funding for children’s services per child in England has fallen by £3bn (29%) from £10.3bn to £7.3bn between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

Local authority spending on children and young people’s services has dropped by £1.7bn in the same period - a 16% reduction.

The research published today by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau found that funding per child plummeted from £813 in 2010-11 to £553 in 2017-18.

‘Kids’ cuts hotspots’, where councils have seen the biggest real terms drop in funding, were also identified by the charities.

The top five largest cuts between 2010-11 and 2017-18 came in London including: Westminster (51% cut), Tower Hamlets (49%), Camden (49%), Newham (46%) and Hackney (46%), the report said.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “Children’s services are at breaking point and these alarming figures reveal the true scale of the devastating and dangerous funding cuts made year after year by successive governments.

“With the number of children protection cases and children being taken into care at their highest for a decade, it’s unthinkable to continue forcing councils to make crippling cuts to services.”

The report noted that more than 1,000 children’s centres have closed since 2009, while 760 youth centres have shut since 2012, and councils are facing a £3bn funding gap for children’s services by 2025.

Nick Roseveare, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Vulnerable children are continuing to pay the price as councils face a toxic cocktail of funding cuts and soaring demand for help.

“Funding cuts are not only an inhumane economy, they are also a false one.”

More deprived areas were also have found to have suffered greater funding cuts and spent less on children’s services. 

The research showed that funding for children and young people in the most deprived local authorities has fallen almost twice as fast as the least deprived

Spending on children and young people in the most deprived councils has fallen five times faster than the least deprived.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “Children’s social care is facing a country-wide cash crisis, with nine in 10 councils spending more than they planned to last year. While the report notes that these cuts have affected different areas in different ways, it is clear that all councils are now finding their budgets under enormous pressure as a result of the ongoing children’s care cash crisis.”

Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi said: “We want every child to have the best start in life, with the opportunities and the stability to fulfil their potential, which is why we have made £200bn available to councils up to 2020 for local services including those for children and young people.”

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