Children England charity response to the NAO report “Pressures on Children’s Social Care” by Chloe Darlington, Children England, 23rd January 2019:
We welcome the confirmation from the National Audit Office that, in the face of huge financial pressures, local authorities have been forced to close non-statutory services in order to protect statutory services. We are also glad to see attention drawn to the failure of the care commissioning system to provide sufficient and appropriate homes for children in the care of the state. We have long argued that this marketplace, in which the business priorities of providers command more power than the will of the local authority to find a child the best home, should be replaced with a national commissioning system with the child at the centre.
It is extremely clear from the NAO’s report that almost all children’s services budgets are now unsustainable, with overspends unable to continue meeting rising demand. That 91% of areas are now overspending indicates that solving this funding problem is not merely a question of regional variation, or leadership choices. Organisations across the children’s sector have joined in an unprecedented campaign to ask the Treasury to put children at the heart of spending decisions.