Children’s services across London are facing an unsustainable level of financial risk, a new report commissioned by London Councils has warned.
The report points to the value of investing in preventative services, but says fast-rising demand for children's services outstrips the level of resource available to boroughs.
In 2017-18 all but one council in London was in deficit on their high needs expenditure and all but six were in deficit on their social care expenditure, according to the report from independent research consultancy Isos Partnership. The total in-year funding shortfall across both SEND and children’s social care in the capital was £185m.
The report said local government in London would support the Department for Education and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to make representations to the Treasury in the run-up to the Spending Review for more investment to cover the shortfalls in funding.
The key recommendations for London Councils and boroughs include:
- Reviewing the progress of sub-regional commissioning arrangements and sharing the learning between partnerships
- Better identification of the ‘hard to place’ older age cohort of young people presenting as looked-after children (LAC) or with complex SEND and rapidly trialling and evaluating initiatives for working with them
- Setting up a Pan-London partnership for commissioning secure and semi-independent placements
London Councils’ executive member for schools and children’s services, Cllr Nickie Aiken, has written an opinion piece on this issue for The MJ (£).