Hiba Mahamadi 30 April 2019

Spending Review should put aside £3bn for children's services say MPs

The Government needs to release at least £3bn of non-ring-fenced funding to local authorities to save children’s services from the ‘crisis’ they are in, MPs have said.

A report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published today said £3.1bn of grant funding would be needed until 2025 to help councils deliver services.

The report also urged the Government to continue the Troubled Families programme after the Spending Review, given how reliant councils are on it for delivering early help services.

Chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said: ‘The fact that nine in 10 councils overspent their budgets on children’s social care in 2017/18 indicates the huge financial pressures councils all over the country are under to support vulnerable children and young people.’

Director of policy and research at The Children’s Society charity, Sam Royston, said: ‘It is absolutely essential the Government listens [to the committee] by investing at least £3bn in children’s services to ensure children and families receive early help before problems reach crisis point.’

However, the latest data on service directors offers some hope for the future.

Analysis by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ (ADCS) found most councils had stable leadership in 2018/19.

Over the last year, there were 51 director changes, a significant drop compared to the 65 in 2017/18.

The number of interim appointments has also remained relatively consistent since 2012/13 at about 20.

ADCS president, Rachel Dickinson, said: ‘Stability in leadership is integral to the delivery of high quality children’s services.

‘It is too soon to tell whether this will form a future trend, but it means that nearly three quarters of councils experienced no change in DCS during the 12 month period.’

Additionally, 55% of current directors are female, which Ms Dickinson said was ‘something to be proud of’.

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