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LGA: Government must close funding gap to keep children safe

Teenagers face a wide variety of serious problems and children’s services are not properly funded to deal with them.

Following a report from the Children’s Society, the LGA has urged central government to give more money to local services that support children.

Surveys from the charity suggest that as many as 700,000 children in the UK could be vulnerable to being abused by their parents because of the influence of alcohol.

In addition, figures provided by 3,000 families show that more than 1.6 million teenagers have a parent with depression or anxiety and 1.7 million are living in homes struggling with problem debt.

When these problems are allowed to subsist they can lead to mental health conditions, exclusion from school, or even the child running away from home.

“Millions of teenagers in the UK are suffering in silence with problems that would floor an adult,” commented Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society.

“The hundreds of thousands of children whose parent has a drinking problem are sadly just the tip of the iceberg of children in desperate need of support. At a time when demand for council children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central government are leaving more and more to deal with these huge problems alone.”

The analysis indicates that the problems teenagers face are rarely standalone, but interwoven with other serious issues. Almost a quarter of children from homes with alcohol misuse were also taking on caring responsibilities at home, likely to include domestic chores, taking care of siblings or nursing parents suffering from withdrawal.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “This research highlights the incredible complexity of issues facing young people and their families, demonstrating the importance of all agencies at local and national level working together and considering how their policies and practice will impact on young people.

“However, children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. If nothing is done to address this, crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on will be at risk.

“We are calling on the government to use the Autumn Budget to commit to funding children’s services and public health properly so that families can get the right help at the right time.”

Social care reform and funding have been a controversial issue in the run up to chancellor Philip Hammond’s next budget.

Adult’s services as well as children’s have been the focus of criticism, with the LGA pointing to an increase in delayed transfers of care (DTOCs) from hospitals as evidence that the system is struggling to cope.

Top image: Ljuba Photo

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