Children’s services funding, May 2018

Children’s services funding is due to be discussed during oral questions. The amount of money local authorities receive and spend on children’s services has been debated frequently. This briefing sets out the LGA’s key messages on the subject and our analysis of council revenue account budgets.


Key messages

  • The National Audit Office has found that local government funding has been cut by 50 per cent in real terms since 2010. The LGA has calculated that children’s services are facing a funding gap of around £2 billion by 2020 just to maintain services at their current level.
  • Although local authority spending on children’s social care has increased, it is not keeping pace with the increase in demand, which has increased dramatically in recent years. On average, 90 children entered care every day last year, the largest annual increase in care numbers since 2010. Over the past decade, the number of children on child protection plans has increased by 83 per cent.
  • It has been suggested that local government had “more than £200 billion between 2015/16 and 2019/20” to spend on children’s services. This is misleading as it is the amount local government had to spend in total on the 800 different services it delivers, including spending £79 billion on adult social care which is also facing significant funding pressure. We estimate at least £12 billion more is needed over this period for all local public services to meet the funding shortfall, in addition to the £5 billion pressure to stabilise the adult social care provider market.

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Bright Futures

Bright Futures

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. 

Bright Futures is our call for fully funded children's services.

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