General Debate on spending on children's services, House of Commons, 31 October 2019

Children should be supported to get the best, not just left to get by. Councils can be empowered to support them if the local authority role goes beyond the provision of statutory child protection services alone.


Key Messages

  • Making sure all children and young people have the bright future they deserve is a key ambition of every council. Councils want all young people to be able to enjoy their lives, reach their full potential and make a good transition to adulthood with good health and wellbeing.
  • The latest Ofsted data on children’s social care shows that, in 2017/18, the proportion of council children’s services rated good or outstanding has increased. This demonstrates the positive work of councils in helping our children have the best start in life.
  • Children should be supported to get the best, not just left to get by. Councils can be empowered to support them if the local authority role goes beyond the provision of statutory child protection services alone.
  • Councils’ ambition is becoming increasingly difficult to realise as financial pressures force increasing numbers of councils to make difficult decisions about the allocation of scarce resources.
  • Although local authority spending on children’s social care has risen, it has not kept pace with growing demand. Eighty-eight children entered care a day in 2017 on average, and a child is now referred to children’s services every 49 seconds.
  • The increase in demand for immediate child protection support has left councils struggling to continue funding vital early intervention services that can help to reduce this pressure in the longer term. This problem has been exacerbated by ongoing cuts to the Government’s Early Intervention Grant, which has been reduced by almost £600 million since 2013.
  • Over two-thirds of all council spending on children’s social care is now directed towards services for looked after children and safeguarding children and young people. Just five per cent of children’s social care funding is now spent on the category of Sure Start children’s centres, flying start and early years.
  • The Spending Round included an additional £1 billion for social care (children and adults) for councils next year. This welcome relief will help them as they strive to support our most vulnerable young people.  It is vital that services supporting young people, children and families are fully funded in the long run.
  • Whilst the Queen’s Speech had some positive announcements, we were disappointed that it did not include any proposals to tackle the challenges facing social care services for children and young people. Government should act to ensure councils have the resources they need to keep children safe and support their wellbeing in years to come.

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General Debate on spending on children's services, House of Commons, 31 October 2019