Unprecedented demand on children's services

“Unprecedented Demand” Putting Children’s Social Care Budgets Under Pressure

The Local Government Association has revealed an “unprecedented demand and funding shortages” are putting council children’s social care budgets under increasing pressure.

The pressures from the increased demand and funding shortages meant councils have been forced to spend more on children’s social care budgets in order to keep children safe, leading to an overspend of more than £3 billion over the last 5 years.

Calling on the government to utilise a forthcoming review of the children’s social care system, the LGA also said that it was “pleased the government had recognised [the issues] by providing additional social care funding this year.”

The forthcoming review will look to understand what has driven the demand for more support and how councils can provide more care for the most vulnerable, as well as invest in early help and prevention services.

The numbers of children in care has risen 28% in the last decade, and there are now more than 52,000 children subject to a child protection plan, an increase of 53% over the last decade.

Funding for early intervention and preventative services is being increasingly diverted into services to protect those at immediate risk, due to reductions in central government funding for councils.

In 2017/2018, there was a 25% decrease in spending on children’s centres than in 2014/2015.

Councils have been attempting to protect budgets for children however, with budgets for children’s social care rising by an average of more than £600 million a year over the past 5 years. However, the unprecedented demand and cost pressures mean there has still been an overspend of £3.2 billion over the same period.

Further government funding would help with the LGA stating that “long-term, sustainable funding for children’s services will be needed in the forthcoming Spending Review for councils to provide the best possible support for vulnerable children and young people.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“These figures show the unprecedented demand pressures facing children’s services and the care system.

“Councils want to make sure that children can get the best, rather than just get by, and that means investing in the right services to reach them at the right time.

“Councils need to play a lead role in the Government’s review of the care system alongside children, families and partners, to make sure it looks at what really matters and what can really make a difference.

“A long-term sustainable funding solution would enable councils to protect children at immediate risk of harm while also supporting early help to prevent problems escalating in the first place.”

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