Government delays to children’s social care reforms could cost taxpayers £1 billion over the next 10 years, the NSPCC has warned.
The analysis warns that the government is set to spend an additional £1 billion on children’s social care over 10 years unless it speeds up the implementation of its reform plan, “Stable Homes, Built on Love”.
These increased costs are “largely the result of a higher number of children needing to be in care, caused by a lack of comprehensive early support during the two-year delay”.
Th research revealed that by 2027/28, it is forecast that 10,500 additional children will be in care due to the government delaying implementation for two years. Although this is expected to level out at around 4,500 assuming the government implements the “Stable Homes, Built on Love” strategy across England.
In addition, Alma’s analysis estimates that if the government’s reform plans are delayed two years, as currently proposed, there will be an additional “social cost” of around £500 million per year over 30 years compared to the full and timely implementation of the care review.
The social costs stem from a greater number of children in the care system facing lower wellbeing and a loss of productivity in later life.
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said:
“One year on from the publication of the Care Review, children’s social care is still in crisis. The deep problems within the system will not go away in the next year or the year after.
While these costs cannot now be reversed, there is still time for the government to step up to avoid even bigger losses in the future.
This government must take bold action now to tackle this and any future government must be ready to pick up the baton of long-term reform. That is why we are calling on all political parties to commit to a full reform of children’s social care. The children and families who need vital support from children’s social care deserve nothing less.”
Mark Russell, CEO of The Children’s Society, said:
“One year on from The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, these figures highlight the urgency for social care reform to help struggling families and children who desperately need vital support.
Continued delays by the government will mean we are stuck with a social care system that fails to intervene before problems reach crisis point and leaves too many children and young people unprotected and exposed to unacceptable risks.
Apart from the significant impact on children, families and society, these figures also highlight the financial burden to the taxpayer which the government simply cannot ignore. Immediate action is required to implement the Review’s findings so we can see a reformed social care system fit for purpose.”
The NSPCC stated that the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care was published in May 2022 and called for an additional £2.6bn to address the existing crisis in children’s social care.
It primarily called for a revolution in Family Help to prevent children entering care where possible, which would lead to better outcomes and allow children to stay with the families they love.
In February 2023, the government published its strategy and consultation on children’s social care, “Stable Homes, Built on Love”, which committed to adopting most but not all the recommendations from the Care Review.