Martin Ford 11 July 2018

Funding call to end 'postcode lottery' for children's services

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MPs today called for more funds to help end a so-called postcode lottery for children’s services.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children found that decisions over whether to help a child were influenced by budget constraints.

Of 1,700 social workers surveyed, 70% said the threshold for helping children in need –  those requiring extra support but not at risk of serious harm – had risen since 2015, with half saying the point at which a child protection plan was triggered had gone up.

APPG chairman and former children’s minister, Tim Loughton, said: ‘Children and families around the country with the same urgent needs are getting significantly different levels of help, and, in some case, no support at all.

‘It is the woeful underfunding by Government of a proper breadth of social care interventions that is to blame.’

The APPG recommended addressing the funding gap and a long-term settlement, and consulting on a legal duty for councils to provide early help for children.

Speaking at last week’s Association of Directors of Children’s Services conference, education secretary Damian Hinds said: ‘It’s clear that budgets are under pressure.

'Frankly, this is difficult and I can’t say right now I have all the answers, but I’m listening to your concerns.’

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