Year on year cuts to local budgets across the country is putting an increasing strain on frontline children services. These children deserve a life like the one that many of us took for granted, but the devastating costs of austerity is really beginning to take hold.
Almost nine years of austerity has hit some of the most vulnerable in our society the hardest. Since 2010 the number of child protection investigations have increased to almost 200,00 cases a year – with little to suggest that this trend is likely to change without major intervention from central government.
Whilst this demand is increasing, funding for local authority children and young people’s services has fallen – between 2010 and 2018, funding has fallen from £813 per child to £553. Research by the Labour Party show that in 2017/2018 local authorities across the country spent £816,554,685 over budget on children’s services and social care due to growing demand, and were forced to make cuts elsewhere and draw on reserves as a result.
This high demand for child care services has forced councils to scale back the early help that can make the difference in reducing the need for this support in the first place. Councils have also been forced to cut into other budgets – but even then, after cuts are made to bin collections, libraries, sure start centres and all other services that councils provide beyond their minimum legal requirements there is still not enough funding to provide the bare minimum of child protection services.
Unless the Government finally listens to the demands of councillors, parents and politicians of all parties that are demanding action, more and more vulnerable children will go without the care that they need and councils will be pushed dangerously close to the financial brink. I’m calling for the Government to prioritise the services children and families need, providing sustainable funding for public services before this crisis turns into a catastrophe for vulnerable children and families up and down the country. Far too many children are being failed as the system crumbles.