Children’s services at ‘breaking point’
August 10, 2017 9 comments
Council-run children’s services are at “breaking point”, having overspent their budgets by more than £600 million.
A newly published report from the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests this could the result of a significant increase in the number of children in need of protection over the last decade. In 2015/16, more than 170,000 children were the subject of enquiries into their safety and wellbeing by local authorities. This is a staggering 140 per cent increase from the 71,800 children in similar situations ten years earlier.
Three quarters of the 370 councils the LGA represents spent more money on children’s social care than their budget allowed in 2015/16. In total these services are now £605 million in the red and the LGA predicts that, if the current trend continues, this budget gap could be as high as £2 billion by 2020.
In addition to the rise in demand, funding has dropped in the last few years according to the LGA. In their report, they claim that the government has cut money for the Early Intervention Grant (EIG) by nearly £500 million since 2013 and they predict a further £183 million drop by 2020. The EIG is a government fund to help local authorities pay for services that will reduce the number of youngsters in need of protection. These include children’s centres, early education, family support and young offenders’ crime prevention.
Richard Watts is Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board. He said this report “shows the sheer scale of the funding crisis we face in children’s social care, both now and in the near future”.
Local authorities have tried to reduce their spending by cutting costs wherever possible, Watts continued, but now there are “very few savings left to find without having a real and lasting impact upon crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on”.
The government needs to address the growing budget gap because “services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point” Watts insisted.
Photo courtesy of bestreviewsbase.com.
August 10, 2017
Categories: Family Life