The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry into funding and provision of local authorities’ children’s services.
Spending on children's services falls while demand rises
Children’s services comprise a range of statutory and non-statutory services for children such as child protection, services for looked after children and adoption. Local authorities also have a general duty to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need” under the Children Act 1989.
Spending on statutory children’s services has increased by 3.2% between 2010/11 and 2016/17, however overall spending on children’s services fell by 7% in the same period due to cuts for discretionary services such as Sure Start. Children’s services across the country are faced with significant increases in demand. The National Audit Office calculated that the number of looked-after children grew by 10.9% during this time, with continued rises expected.
Scope of inquiry
In the Autumn Budget, that Government announced an extra £410 million for adult and child social care services, along with £84 million over five years to fund children’s social care innovation for up to 20 local authorities.
The inquiry will investigate what impact public spending has had on the provision of care services, and the approaches local authorities have taken in addressing funding constraints. It will consider how financial support for children’s services can be made more sustainable in the short and long term, and examine the potential for innovative approaches to the design and delivery of services.
Comment from Housing, Communities and Local Government Chair Clive Betts MP
"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. 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."