William Eichler 07 November 2018

Three quarters of English councils to cut early help for children

Early help services for children will be cut or reduced by almost three quarters of English councils when Troubled Families funding ends in 2020.

A survey by Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) covering 92% of the country’s local authorities found 75% are relying on Troubled Families for early intervention, and will have to make cuts when the Government ends its funding in less than two years’ time.

The Safeguarding Pressures report also tracks the surge in demand over the past decade, including a 78% increase in initial contacts made to children’s social care, reaching an estimated 2.4 million in 2017/18.

The number of referrals rose by 22% over the same period, while the number of child protection plans increased by 87%.

ADCS president Stuart Gallimore said: ‘A decade of austerity has, undoubtedly, impacted on children and families, fuelling demand for our help.

‘There is not enough money in the system to meet the level of need we are now seeing, and further cuts are planned. This is compromising our ability to improve children’s life chances.’

ADCS also estimates that more than 100 new duties have been placed on children’s services since 2011, not always funded in full.

Mr Gallimore argued the Government had to change what he described as a ‘piecemeal approach’ to tackling issues that leave children at risk.

He added: ‘Whilst funding is welcome, this short termist approach is unlikely to make a meaningful difference to the complex, entrenched social problems so many children and families face. It’s time for change, beyond one parliamentary cycle - without this we will never be a country that works for all children.’

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: ‘These findings reinforce the need for new and long-term significant funding for children’s services, which are fast approaching a tipping point and face a funding gap of £3bn by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.

‘It is vital that the Government tackles the funding crisis facing children’s services in next year’s Spending Review, and delivers a long-term sustainable funding solution that enables councils to protect children at immediate risk of harm while also supporting early intervention to prevent problems escalating in the first place.’

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