Vulnerable children are less likely to qualify for help from social services because of a growing lack of resources, according to new research.
In a survey, 70% of social workers said the threshold for qualifying as a ‘child in need’ had risen in the last three years and 60% said financial pressures influenced their decisions about whether to offer early help.
The research by the National Children’s Bureau and the British Association of Social Workers has been published as the all-party parliamentary group for children launches a new inquiry into thresholds for children’s social care.
Earlier this year the group warned that many were finding it increasingly difficult to meet rising levels of demand, a view supported by the Local Government Association which warned that children’s social services are reaching breaking point and face a £2bn funding gap by 2020.
Tim Loughton, chair of the parliamentary group, said: ‘There is now a very real fear that intervention for an increasing number of children is being determined not by vulnerability and threat of harm but by finances and availability of support.
'As we know from bitter experience that is a false economy, both financially and socially, which can have a lasting impact on a child’s life chances.'
NCB chief executive Anna Feuchtwang said: ‘This is further evidence that children’s social care is becoming an emergency service, as councils struggle to meet their statutory duties to vulnerable children with dwindling resources and rising need.'