29.10.18

Councils ‘on the brink’ after surge in children protection plans

A surge in the number of children supported through a child protection plan of more than 2,700 is pushing councils “to the brink,” the LGA has warned.

Figures published by the Department for Education show that 53,790 children were being supported through child protection plans on 31 March, a 5.31% increase on the previous year and the largest rise since 2014.

This also represents an 84% increase in the number of children on plans over the last decade, and councils are warning this spike in demand is pushing them to “tipping point.”

The LGA, representing 370 councils in England and Wales, has warned that the demand is being placed on councils at a time when resources are being heavily reduced, with children’s services across the UK facing a £3bn funding gap by 2025.

Councils use child protection plans to support families and keep children safe when it is thought they are at risk of significant harm, initiated for a range of reasons including neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm, but it is also important that help is available before problems escalate to that point.

“But this is being put at risk by the huge and increasing financial pressures children’s services are now under, with many councils being pushed to the brink by unprecedented demand.

“Councils have done all they can to protect spending on children’s services by cutting services elsewhere and diverting money, but despite this, they have been forced to reduce or stop the very services which are designed to help children and families before problems begin or escalate to the point where a child might need to come into care.”

Councils believe that the large increase in demand has been caused by a number of factors, such as greater public awareness after a number of high-profile abuse cases and a reduction in early intervention services.

Bramble added: “We are absolutely clear that unless new funding is found in the Autumn Budget, then these vital services, which keep children safe from harm and the worst abuses of society, will reach a tipping point.”

Earlier this month, a report by Children’s Commissioner for England said that almost 16,000 babies were growing up in “toxic” households where they were at risk of harm, following the unprecedented financial strain on children’s services.

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 Image credit - isayildiz

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