An inquiry into the funding and provision of children’s services has been launched as local authorities struggle to cope with the impact of rising demand combined with funding cuts.
The real-terms spending on local children’s services fell by 7% between 2010/11 and 2016/17 due to cuts for discretionary services. This was despite a 3.2% increase in spending on statutory children’s services during the same period.
On top of this, local authorities have had to cope with significant increases in demand. The National Audit Office calculated that the number of looked-after children grew by 10.9% during this six year period.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry into funding and provision of local authorities’ children’s services.
The Government announced an extra £410m for adult and child social care services, along with £84m over five years to fund children’s social care innovation for up to 20 local authorities in last week’s budget.
However, the committee will focus on the impact of public spending on the provision of care services, as well as the approaches councils have taken in addressing funding constraints.
It will also consider how financial support for children’s services can be made more sustainable in the short and long term, and it will examine the potential for innovative approaches to the design and delivery of services.
‘While funding for statutory children’s services has increased during the period of austerity, this masks an overall drop in real-terms spending for children’s services as a whole,’ said committee chair Clive Betts MP.
‘Over the last decade, services such as Sure Start and youth services have been significantly cut back as local authorities have targeted urgent services over long-term prevention.
‘We have launched this inquiry to understand the consequences of current funding levels. How well are local authorities able to tackle the most urgent child safety cases, and how are they looking at the long-term and addressing their causes.
‘We will also look at what innovations have been made, examining the potential for new approaches in the face of increasing demand.’