Huge public support is demonstrated for “Children in need”, yet we leave our fundamental children’s services seriously short, £2bn short by 2020.
Huge public support is demonstrated for “Children in need”, yet we leave our fundamental children’s services seriously short, £2bn short by 2020. Yet demand for services has surged.
There are currently more than 72,000 children in care, and rising. The number of children in care and investigations has doubled in the past 10 years, with family distress and break-up cited as the main causes. (See my previous bulletin, 20 October 2017.)
To keep children safe, councils now start 500 new investigations every day. High profile cases of abuse have sharpened our risk assessments, but research shows about a third of all councils have overspent on children’s services. The cost of getting it wrong for children is enormous. Lambeth Council has set up a separate fund of £100m to compensate children who have suffered child abuse that should have been prevented. Yet we have had to reduce and remove grants to the voluntary sector and taken £650m out of early years funding since 2010, reducing investment in those formative years.
To make ends meet, councils have increased and rescheduled borrowing, used up reserves, sold assets, increased charges and cut services and entered into a number of business enterprises to help raise funds for services. We have done all we can, now the Government needs to hold on to less of our income tax and give councils the fundamental resources needed. It’s time to invest in a more secure future. Let’s hope we see some movement next week in the provisional Local Government Financial Settlement.