The ‘Turning the Tide’ report from the Children’s Society points to a reduction of £2.4 billion in government funding for local children’s services between 2010/11 and 2015/16. The report also notes that the demand for crisis support is rising sharply as cuts have forced local authorities to reduce spending on early intervention by 40 per cent over this period.
The Children’s Society’s analysis finds an ongoing trend where councils no longer have the resources to fund services that step in and help families early. Instead, they are increasingly forced to focus on dealing with problems once they have escalated.
Here in Liverpool, the council reports a near 8 per cent increase in the number of looked after children in the course of just 12 months, with increasingly complex cases of children with learning and physical disabilities.
Other recent reports have also highlighted the impact of government cuts on local services for young people. The 2016 ‘Losing in the Long Run’ report highlighted the difficult decisions councils are making to reduce spending on universal services and targeted early intervention as they deal with reduced budgets. The Children’s Society’s ‘Good Childhood Report 2017’ further demonstrates the increasing gap between the scale of the need and the funding available for local authorities to help children and families.
Seven years of government funding cuts to services that support families is failing children and driving councils to the financial brink. Early intervention has been cut, Sure Start centres have closed, child protection cases have doubled, more children need taking into care, and ever more families need specialist help.
The manifesto I stood on at the 2017 General Election committed to give local government extra funding and to consider ways to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term. It also pledged to refocus social care to work with families in local communities to prevent children becoming at risk of going into care. It further committed to invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people.
I will continue to press the current government to stand up for children’s services and to provide the funding that councils need to properly safeguard and look after children in need.