Ellie Ames 14 September 2023

Cuts see ‘children’s services run like A&E’, charities warn

Cuts see ‘children’s services run like A&E’, charities warn image
Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Councils are spending more on crisis intervention in children’s services, a group of leading charities has warned today.

Local authorities are having to tread ‘well-worn paths’ into late intervention spending as they manage difficult spending budgets, according to the Children’s Services Funding Alliance (CSFA).

English councils’ spending on children’s services hit £800m in 2021-22, an 8% rise on the previous year, according to analysis by Pro Bono Economics, commissioned by the CSFA.

Despite the overall increase, spending on early intervention has dropped by 46% over the past 12 years.

Crisis intervention made up 81% of the increased spend, compared to 67% a decade ago.

The implications are clear, the CSFA said: children are receiving help only after issues have escalated, with the early help that could avert crises being sidelined.

The charities’ alliance said the issue stemmed from Government funding cuts, with local authorities under financial pressure reducing early preventative services and becoming reliant on 'high-cost late interventions'.

CEO at Action for Children Paul Carberry said: ‘For years now, successive governments have forced councils to run children’s services like A&E units, where only those at serious risk of harm get help.

‘Waiting for children to be exposed to harm hurts children and families and burns a massive hole in council finances. This is simply unsustainable.’

The chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, Cllr Louise Gittins, said it was ‘absolutely vital’ for the Government to provide adequate funding for children's services across all councils in the Autumn Statement.


The new Centre for Young Lives image

The new Centre for Young Lives

Anne Longfield CBE, the chair of the Commission on Young Lives, discusses the launch of the Centre for Young Lives this month.
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