Children’s funding slashed by a third per child, leaving thousands at risk of falling into crisis

Posted by / Tuesday 26 February 2019 / Press release
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Shocking new figures from the UK’s leading children’s charities have today revealed funding available for children’s services has fallen by a third per child in England since 2010¹.

The new analysis of official figures by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau has identified “kids’ cuts hotspots” across England – where local councils have faced the biggest real-term drop² in this funding.

Councils in London have suffered the largest cuts, with the top five worst-hit all in the capital. Westminster tops the list with funding slashed by more than half (51%), followed by Tower Hamlets (49%), Camden (49%), Newham (46%) and Hackney (46%).

Yet the problem stretches far beyond London. Areas such as Manchester (45% drop), Nottingham (43%) and Birmingham (43%) also made it into the country’s top twenty “kids’ cuts hotspots”.

Councils are facing a £3 billion funding gap for children’s services by 2025, with many services having already been stripped back or shut down. Over 1,000 children’s centres have closed since 2004, while 760 youth centres have shut since 2015. The charities are warning that thousands more children and young people could fall into crisis if these cuts continue.

Chief executive at Action for Children, Julie Bentley, said: “Children’s services are at breaking point and these alarming figures reveal the true scale of the devastating and dangerous funding cuts made year after year by successive governments.

“Every day at Action for Children we see that children’s services can be a lifeline for families – from helping mums suffering with post-natal depression or families struggling to put food on the table, to spotting children quietly living in fear of domestic abuse or neglect. Thousands of families across the country rely on these services to step in and stop problems spiralling out of control.

“With the number of child protection cases and children being taken into care at their highest for a decade6, it’s unthinkable to continue forcing councils to make crippling cuts to services. Without urgent cash from central government, thousands more children at risk of neglect and abuse will slip through the cracks and into crisis.”

Despite cuts to funding for children’s services, many councils have sought to protect this area as best they can – with spending falling by less than the funding drop7. Councils may be making up the difference by drawing on reserves or slashing spending on other areas – but the charity alliance stressed neither approach is sustainable in the long term.

Chief executive at The Children’s Society, Nick Roseveare, said: “Vulnerable children are continuing to pay the price as councils face a toxic cocktail of funding cuts and soaring demand for help. This shocking analysis lays bare the enormous scale of this funding challenge, which is making it near impossible for councils to offer vital early support to children and young people to prevent problems escalating.

“Funding cuts are not only an inhumane economy, they are also a false one. The reductions in early help for children they lead to simply intensify the need for more costly interventions further down the road - like taking children into care as they face growing risks, including everything from substance misuse and mental health problems, to repeatedly going missing, and being sexually or criminally exploited.

“The Government now faces a stark choice at the next Spending Review: either continue to leave councils short of the money they need to keep children safe, or address the funding gap and give some of our most vulnerable young people hope of a brighter future.”

 

ENDS

Media contact:

Huw Beale, Action for Children – 07718 114 038 / [email protected]

Out of hours – 07802 806 679 / [email protected]

NOTES TO EDITOR

¹ Funding available per child and young person for all children’s services except schools and early education fell from £813 in 2010-11 to £553 in 2017-18. 
Our approach to modelling funding available for children and young people’s services is to take a baseline year and assume that spending on children and young people’s services in that year was equivalent to the funding available. Funding for other years is then modelled by assuming that the proportion of overall spending power which is available for children and young people’s services, remains consistent over time. For this report we used 2010/11 as the ‘baseline’ year, and modelled funding for children and young people’s services over the following years accordingly. 
The amount available per child is the amount of estimated available funding for children and young people’s services divided by the mid-year population figure for the relevant year.

² Adjusted to take inflation into account

³ Local Government Association

4 The Sutton Trust

5 UNISON – Youth Services at Breaking Point (December 2018)

6 Since 2010, there has been a 7% increase in referrals to children’s social care services, a 26% increase in the number of children subject to a child protection plan and a 17% increase in the number of children in care. Department for Education (2011) Children looked after in England including adoption: 2010 to 2011 and Department for Education (2018) Children looked after in England including adoption: 2017 to 2018

7 Spending on services for children and young people has fallen by less than the funding available – by 16% (or £1.7 billion) compared to a 29% reduction in funding.

 

TOP 20 “KIDS’ CUTS HOTSPOTS” IN ENGLAND:

Estimated funding available per child (0-19 years)

       

Local authority

Region

2010/11

 

(£)

2017/18

 

(£)

Change 2010/11 to 2017/18 (£)

Change 2010/11 to 2017/18 (%)

Westminster

London

1,591.16

761.62

-829.54

-52%

Tower Hamlets

London

1,781.75

911.08

-870.68

-49%

Camden

London

1,332.78

685.69

-647.09

-49%

Newham

London

1,119.28

603.78

-515.50

-46%

Hackney

London

1,451.78

783.50

-668.27

-46%

Manchester

North West

1,426.23

786.22

-640.01

-45%

Islington

London

2,175.18

1,206.33

-968.85

-45%

Nottingham

East Mids

1,158.75

659.04

-499.70

-43%

Barking & Dagenham

London

1,170.02

670.01

-500.01

-43%

Southwark

London

1,516.27

871.42

-644.86

-43%

H’smith & Fulham

London

1,638.07

948.68

-689.39

-42%

Birmingham

West Mids

886.79

517.85

-368.93

-42%

Liverpool

North West

1,082.82

639.82

-442.99

-41%

Haringey

London

1,629.43

963.02

-666.41

-41%

Wandsworth

London

1,017.74

606.86

-410.88

-40%

Salford

North West

803.14

481.63

-321.51

-40%

Slough

South East

716.67

429.81

-286.87

-40%

Newcastle upon Tyne

North East

1,240.44

745.67

-494.77

-40%

Greenwich

London

1,485.54

893.77

-591.78

-40%

Lambeth

London

1,414.52

853.91

-560.62

-40%

 

 

• About Action for Children
Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year. actionforchildren.org.uk

• About The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society is a national charity that works with the most vulnerable children and young people in Britain today. We listen. We support. We act. Because no child should feel alone.

• About the National Children’s Bureau
The National Children’s Bureau is a leading children’s charity working to build a better childhood for every child. We champion children’s right to be safe, secure and supported, by using evidence and our expert knowledge to influence government policy, and help practitioners to do the best job possible, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.

• About Barnardo’s
Last year 301,100 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes. We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you. Visit www.barnardos.org.uk to find out more.

• About the NSPCC
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. We help children who have been abused to rebuild their lives, protect those at risk, and find the best ways of preventing abuse from ever happening.