New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, reveals that in 2015/16 councils surpassed their children’s social care budgets by £605 million in order to protect children at immediate risk of harm. At least 75% of councils in England have overspent on their children’s services budgets by more than half a billion pounds.
The LGA estimates that a minimum of £2 billion will be required by 2019/20 to fund the additional pressures on children’s services.
Part of the context to all this is an unprecedented surge in demand for children’s social care support over recent years:
More than 170,000 children were subject to child protection enquiries in 2015/16, compared to 71,800 in 2005/06 (equalling a 140% increase in just 10 years). The number of children on child protection plans has increased by almost 24,000 over the same period. Staggering statistics.
The LGA has warned that the pressures facing children’s services are rapidly becoming unsustainable, with a £2 billion funding gap expected by 2020:
Unless urgent action is taken to reduce the number of families relying on the children’s social care system for support, this gap will continue to grow.
The LGA’s publication, Growing Places, sets out local government’s plan to give children the best start in life. Emphasis is given to the need for councils to:
- harness the power and the ambition of local public services, working together to improve the lives of residents, local areas and contributing to local prosperity.
- be responsive to change underpinned by a connection to local people and local areas.
- support the government’s national efforts by leading their communities through this period of great change and uncertainty.
Read the full piece: Children’s social care at breaking point, council leaders warn
Children’s services overspend tops £600m