More than 500 child protection investigations were started every single day on average last year by councils concerned about children at risk of harm, the Local Government Association reveals today
The LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, said the "alarming" new figures show an increase from 200 investigations per day just a decade ago.
With so many children deemed to be potentially at risk, social workers are working around the clock to investigate concerns and if necessary put in place measures to help keep them safe from harm.
With 90 children entering the care system every single day last year, the LGA is calling on the Government to use the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to resolve the £2billion funding gap that is facing children’s services by 2020.
Failure to close this gap will leave many children and families across the country, who desperately rely on these crucial services, at risk.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“It is alarming that councils are having to undertake around 300 more investigations every day than this time 10 years ago. By 2020, our children’s services departments will be facing a funding gap of £2 billion.
“It was extremely disappointing that last month’s Budget provided no additional funding for children’s services. The Government has been warned repeatedly that ongoing funding cuts have left councils struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need.
“Children will only be taken into care if it is absolutely necessary for their own protection. But if concerns are raised, it is absolutely right that the council investigates. With councils now starting 500 child protection investigations each day, along with providing the other vital services that they deliver, children’s services have now reached a tipping point.
“This has to be wake up call to government that unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention services, many more vulnerable children and families will need formal support from council child protection services in the years to come.
“Last year, 75 per cent of councils were forced to overspend their budgets by millions to ensure children at immediate risk of harm were protected. We’ve reached the point where this service can no longer be ignored. It is absolutely crucial that the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement addresses this funding gap.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Section 47 of the 1989 Children Act requires local authorities to investigate any circumstances where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
- Councils began 185,450 of these so-called ‘section 47 enquiries’ during the year ending 31 March 2017. For the year ending 31 March 2007, this figure was 73,800.
Helping children and young people to fulfil their potential is a key ambition of all councils, but our children’s services are under increasing pressure.
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