Cuts to child services are too deep, say councillors

06 September 2019

PA

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, holds a children’s press conference earlier this week

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, holds a children’s press conference earlier this week

MORE than 80 per cent of Conservative councillors are concerned that continued cuts to child social-care services could cost their party the next General Election, a new survey suggests.

In a poll of 502 Conservative councillors in England, published on Monday, more than two-thirds (70 per cent) feared that their local councils would be left financially unsustainable if funding cuts continued over the next five years. Nearly one third (31 per cent) strongly agreed with this statement.

It was conducted by Survation for the Children’s Society, Action for Children, and the National Children’s Bureau. Funding available per child and young person for all children’s services except schools and early education fell from £813 in 2010-11 to £553 in 2017-18, the charities report. They are urging the Government to address an estimated £3 billion funding deficit to these services predicted by 2025.

More than half (54 per cent) of councillors surveyed believed that recent cuts to children’s services had had a negative impact on children in their area. One fifth (20 per cent) strongly agreeing with that statement.

The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Mark Russell, said that the findings should be “a wake-up call” for the Government.

“Councillors of all political colours are struggling to ensure their councils can provide vital early help for children and families, meaning that problems they face are more likely to reach crisis point and require more expensive interventions which are financially unsustainable for many councils.

“The Government must address this worrying situation as a matter of urgency, starting with the forthcoming spending announcement — the future of thousands of children may depend upon it.”

On Wednesday, the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced in his spending review an end to a decade of austerity, including £13.8 billion in investment in health, education, justice, and the Home Office. “No department will be cut next year,” he said. “Every single department has had its budget for day to day spending increased at least in line with inflation. That’s what I mean by the end of austerity.”

The director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said, however: “By failing to fix the funding gap in children’s services, the Chancellor has left our most vulnerable children without the right support — facing traumas like abuse and neglect while struggling to get the early help they need.

”More children reaching crisis point also means more pressure on our over-stretched nurses, teachers and police officers.”

The director of Policy and Research at the Children’s Society, Sam Royston, said that it was unclear how new funding for social care would reach the most vulnerable children. “After a decade of cuts, these plans are sticking plasters which fall well short of addressing the deep-rooted challenges facing children and families.”

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