Posted on 9/08/2017 by David Burgess
Councils in England and Wales overspent their children’s social care budgets in 2015/16 councils by more than half a billion pounds, new stats show
Children's social care is at breaking point after years of brutal funding cuts, town hall chiefs warn today.
The Local Government Association (LGA) sounded the alarm after new stats showed councils in England and Wales overspent their children’s social care budgets in 2015/16 councils by more than half a billion pounds.
The LGA said town halls had no choice but to spend the cash after an unprecedented surge in demand for children’s care services, with the number of kids needing support up 140% in 10 years.
Councils in England spent £8.303 billion on children’s social care in 2015/16 compared with a budget figure of £7.698 billion - overspending by a staggering £605million.
LGA chief Coun Richard Watts said: “The fact the majority of councils are recording high levels of children’s services overspend in their local areas shows the sheer scale of the funding crisis we face in children’s social care, both now and in the near future.
“Councils have done everything they can to respond to the growing financial crisis in children’s social care, including reducing costs where they can and finding new ways of working.
“However, they are at the point where there are very few savings left to find without having a real and lasting impact upon crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on.”
The LGA said funding cuts mean 365 children’s centres and 603 youth centres have closed since 2012, with local authorities forced to make tough decisions year after year about which services they can deliver.
“With councils facing a £2billion funding gap for children’s services in just three years’ time it is more important than ever that the Government prioritises spending in this area,” Coun Watts added.
Labour said the situation has hit crisis point and urged Ministers to start giving town halls the cash they need.
Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “The LGA, which represents councils from every part of the country, has spoken with one voice and are telling us that children’s social services are on the brink of collapse.
“This isn’t the view of a few local councils, these are local authorities from every part of the country and they are reporting very serious disparities in the care they can provide due to budget cuts.
“This is yet another sign of the government’s misplaced priorities - they can find a £1 billion bung for the DUP to stay in the job, but are failing to provide the funding children’s services desperately need.”