Adoption UK supports LGA call to address children’s social care funding crisis
Published: 09.08.17Adoption UK is alarmed that growing demand for children’s social care services led to three-quarters of councils in England overspending their children’s service budgets by a combined total of more than half-a-billion-pounds, a Local Government Association (LGA) report has found.
Council leaders are warning that children’s social care is at “breaking point”, as local authorities face an unprecedented surge in demand. Councils surpassed their children’s social care budgets by £605m during 2015/16, in a bid to protect children at immediate risk of harm.
The LGA say the huge financial pressures that councils are under, coupled with the spike in demand for child protection support, means the limited budget councils have available is increasingly being taken up with the provision of urgent help for children and families already at crisis point, leaving very little to invest in early intervention.
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, expressed grave concern at the LGA’s analysis, saying: “This toxic mix of squeezed council budgets and an increase in demand for child protection services mean that support designed to prevent families from falling into crisis in the first place is being cut. Without this early intervention, more children will be put at risk and require protection. This lack of investment will lead to greater costs in the future as families who have been denied the support they need, reach crisis point, and require more costly and urgent intervention.”
The LGA is warning that the pressures facing children’s services are rapidly becoming unsustainable, with a £2b funding gap expected by 2020.
Dr Armstrong Brown, pictured above, continued: “Trauma in childhood carries a lifelong legacy. If vulnerable children aren’t supported early on, we know that they do less well at school, their life chances are limited, and they go on to become overly reliant on adult social services in the future. It makes so much more sense to properly fund early intervention which is why Adoption UK fully supports the LGA’s plea to government to address the funding gap immediately.”
LGA analysis shows that government funding for the Early Intervention Grant has been cut by almost £500m since 2013, and is projected to drop by a further £183m by 2020 - representing a 40 per cent reduction by the end of the decade. Without this funding, councils have found it increasingly difficult to invest in the early help services that can prevent children entering the social care system, and help to manage needs within families to avoid them escalating.
The struggle faced by councils attempting to balance increased demand, alongside reduced funding, is perhaps most starkly illustrated by the closure of 365 children’s centres and 603 youth centres since 2012, as local authorities are forced to make difficult decisions about the way in which they deliver these services.
The LGA press release can be read by clicking here.