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31.10.17

Councillors raise concern about provision for children in need

Local authorities lack the resources to support children services and support young people in need, a survey by the National Children’s Bureau has revealed.

The survey of lead members from 101 local authorities found that councillors felt that they were unable to meet their statutory duties to children or support ‘children in need’ and those in care because of a lack of funds.

The majority of those surveyed confirmed that demand for local authority support for children and families had increased over the past two years.

Half of respondents felt that this increased demand was due to higher levels of poverty, whilst 45% named cuts to other family services, such as housing support, as a contributing factor.

Almost a quarter attributed the increased need to rising levels of abuse and neglect.

Key areas identified as needing significantly more cash were early support for families, children in care and support for children with mental health problems.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said that it is clear that local authorities across England were struggling to meet the needs of children.

“We should be stepping in to help these children as early as possible, but with two-thirds of lead members saying they have insufficient resources to provide universal services, prevention and early help are falling by the wayside, as councils are forced to prioritise funds for those closest to crisis,” she stated.

The NCB boss also called on the government to give children’s services additional funds and resources to address improve support for children with mental health problems as well as improve data sharing between organisations.

Feuchtwang added: “No single action can address the deeper causes of increasing demand, such as poverty, poor housing and benefits cuts, and we need a detailed government plan that addresses these and shows how we can create a society that works for all children and young people.”

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