“This report rightly recognises the increased pressures facing local authorities when it comes to protecting vulnerable children. As a result of funding cuts and huge increases in demand for services, the reality is that services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point."
Responding to Action for Children’s ‘Revolving Door’ report, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“This report rightly recognises the increased pressures facing local authorities when it comes to protecting vulnerable children. As a result of funding cuts and huge increases in demand for services, the reality is that services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point.
“The number of referrals to local authority children’s services has increased by almost 9 per cent over the past decade, while the number of children placed on a child protection plan as a result of those referrals has increased by more than 90 per cent. This demonstrates the increasing level of need that councils are seeing, and the significant efforts they are taking to ensure that children are robustly protected.
“Not all referrals will need a formal intervention however, and referrals closed with no further action will not necessarily leave a child in need. It is important that local authorities and their partners work closely to help children and families to access the support they need when they need it, whether that requires intervention from social services or not.
“But we know that reduced funding for local services has left fewer resources to invest in early intervention, and Action for Children are right to highlight the significant challenge facing all agencies in making sure families can get help before problems become more serious. The Early Intervention Grant has been cut by £500 million since 2013, and will drop by a further £183 million by 2020. This has exacerbated a difficult situation where councils cannot afford to withdraw services for children in immediate need of protection to invest in early help instead.
“Councils are doing everything they can to respond to the significant underfunding in children’s social care, including protecting budgets, reducing costs where they can and finding new ways of working. However, they are at the point where 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.
“Councils are facing a £2 billion funding gap for children’s services in just three years’ time. It’s more important than ever that the Government commits to the life chances of children and young people by acting urgently to address the growing funding gap.”