Welfare

21.03.17

Cuts to funds driving challenges to children’s care to ‘a whole new dimension’

Councils are facing “a whole new dimension” of issues with children’s social care due to the increasingly complex and difficult challenges stemming from online grooming and refugee children, a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children has revealed.

The inquiry into children’ social care, titled ‘No Good Options’, heard that local authorities were being forced to target dwindling resources at children suffering from abuse of neglect or at high risk of harm rather than being able to solve the problem directly.

It was also reported that the shift towards late intervention was making it harder to engage with families before they slipped to “crisis point” – leaving councils with no option other than to place children in care.

Nearly 90% of senior managers told the inquiry that they found it increasingly difficult to provide for children ‘in need’, including those with disabilities, families in crisis or those at high risk of abuse.

Figures published in the report also found that the number of child protection plans, which are put in place when a social worker believes a child is at risk of harm, had soared by over 29% between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

Another warning was issued about the “postcode lottery”: different authorities were taking “wildly different” approaches to intervention and identification of “children in need”, and also responded to placing children into care in vastly different ways.

Tim Loughton MP, who co-chairs the APPG, said that the findings of the report were worrying.

“Children’s social services have never had an easy job, but recently the challenge has taken on a whole new dimension,” he stated. “Our inquiry found that there is huge variation in the way in which local authorities decide to support the most vulnerable children.”

Commenting on the random nature of care in different areas of the country, Loughton said it was “striking” that the proportion of children taken into care varied from just 22 per 10,000 in one local authority to 164 per 10,000 in another.

“This cannot simply be explained by differences in deprivation,” he said. “It points instead to variation in policy and practice.

“Given that we know children in care are far less likely to gain good GCSEs and go to university, and more likely to have poor physical and mental health, such a ‘postcode lottery’ is deeply worrying.”

The MP urged ministers to focus on realistic resourcing of all children’s services – from prevention and early help for families to care and child protection – and to look at ways to tackle the stark variation in standards across the country”.

The LGA also argued that councils had warned Whitehall about pressure facing children’s services becoming unsustainable due to the combination of cuts to funding and a huge increase in demand.

Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, Cllr Richard Watts, said: “The number of inquiries into child protection concerns undertaken by councils has increased by 124% over the past decade, and the number of children needing child protection plans has increased from 26,400 to more than 50,000 over the same period – an increase of more than 23,000 children needing social work support to stay safe from significant harm.

“Councils have worked hard to protect funding for child protection services in response to this rapidly rising demand, but ongoing cuts to local authority budgets are forcing many areas to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.”

Recent analysis by the LGA suggested that councils will be facing a £1.9bn funding gap for children's services by 2020, and in many areas the pressure on children's budgets is, shockingly, now even greater than that faced by adult social care.

“Councils have responded by reducing costs and remodelling services, but we must be clear that there are very few savings left to find without having a real and lasting impact upon crucial services that many people across the country have come to rely on,” added Watts.

He also praised the “heroic levels of support” by local authorities who were trying to cope despite huge pressures resulting from cuts to budgets, adding: “Their tough decisions and swift actions are saving children's lives every day.

“The number of children dying due to homicide or assault has fallen by 69% in England since 1985, and remains in long-term decline. But the pressure on these services is building, and the government must act now to ensure that councils have the funding they need to keep children and young people safe in the years to come.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

22/06/2018London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

Two tower blocks in North London are at risk of collapse, with the area’s council announcing it wants to begin re-housing residents “... more >
Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

22/06/2018Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

An ongoing battle between Christchurch Borough Council and a planned council merger has been given the go-ahead to proceed to the High Court. ... more >
Government does not ‘currently have understanding’ of skills businesses need going through Brexit

22/06/2018Government does not ‘currently have understanding’ of skills businesses need going through Brexit

Government departments “do not have sufficient understanding” of what skills UK businesses need, or how Brexit will impact the supply... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open — and this needs to happen as soon as po... more > more last word articles >
London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

22/06/2018London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

Two tower blocks in North London are at risk of collapse, with the area’s council announcing it wants to begin re-housing residents “immediately.” The Tangmere and Northolt... more >
Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

22/06/2018Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

An ongoing battle between Christchurch Borough Council and a planned council merger has been given the go-ahead to proceed to the High Court. Last month, Christchurch council outlined its pl... more >

the raven's daily blog

The work of the vanguards can help overcome the challenges of integrated care

29/05/2018The work of the vanguards can help overcome the challenges of integrated care

Following the announcement of the second wave of integrated care systems (ICSs), NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation, NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) and the LGA reflect on how lessons learnt by members from across the four organisations – that have designed and worked together as part of the vanguards – will support the j... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Grenfell, one year on

18/06/2018Grenfell, one year on

In the year since the Grenfell Tower disaster, the LGA has been working tirelessly to ramp up fire safety regulations and ban ‘desktop&rsqu... more >
Brexit's long shadow over devolution

18/06/2018Brexit's long shadow over devolution

The EU Referendum and the stop-start Brexit negotiations have left a looming shadow of uncertainty over devolution in the UK, writes Anthony Sala... more >
Decisions, decisions

18/06/2018Decisions, decisions

The true social value of procurement comes from asking challenging questions and thinking outside the box, argues Melissa Bell, sustainable procu... more >
Finding the balance

18/06/2018Finding the balance

Douglas White, head of advocacy at the Carnegie UK Trust, evaluates the risk-benefit relationship of data sharing within the public sector, highl... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

  • 12/06/2018G-Cloud 10: small changes, big opportunities

    Rafael Cortes, Foehn head of marketing, explains how G-Cloud 10 should be a catalyst for innovative solutions and not a source of complacency. It was...
  • 04/06/2018Targets and tribulations

    David Willett, corporate director at The Open University, walks us through the university’s research into the apprenticeship levy, as well as...
  • 30/04/2018The legacy of Grenfell

    PSE’s Seamus McDonnell looks at the reactions of councils and the government to the Grenfell Tower fire, from the immediate aftermath to the...
View all News