Councils call for autumn statement boost to children’s social care funding

Children in care may be left without the right support unless town hall budgets are boosted in the autumn statement, councils have warned the Chancellor.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which acts as a voice for councils, has been joined by charities and campaigners in calling for the increase in the children’s social care budget in an open letter to Jeremy Hunt.

The 29 signatories include Barnardo’s, Action for Children, Centre for Mental Health and The Care Leavers’ Association.

They warn of “a perfect storm” of financial pressures and rising numbers of children needing help, and say it is “vital” Mr Hunt acts to “protect” children’s social care before it is “pushed to the brink”.

The call comes as the proportion of council budgets going towards meeting the cost of children’s social care grows and figures released last week show there are now 83,840 children in local authority care in England.

Despite a 27% real-terms reduction in core spending power for councils since 2010/11, children’s social care budgets increased by £1.5 billion in the last year alone, the group said.

The coalition also warns that much of this is being spent on supporting children who are deemed to be at the highest risk, which means less money can be invested in early intervention services that can step in before a child and their family reach crisis point.

LGA chair Shaun Davies (pictured) said: “For some time now, councils, charities, those with lived experience and other voices from the sector, have been warning of the serious challenges facing children’s social care.

“Councils are doing everything they can to provide the vital care and support our vulnerable children need and deserve.

“However, there is a real risk that services could be pushed to the brink, unless the Chancellor acts in the autumn statement and delivers a lifeline of financial support for children’s social care.”

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