Care Matters funding to be reduced by almost half in four years, minister reveals

Government funding to improve the care system and narrow the gap between children in care and their peers will be halved by 2014, CYP Now has learned.

Figures quoted in a letter from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to local authority leaders reveals that by 2014/15 cash shared between councils under the Care Matters grant will have fallen to £28.2m – a cut of 48.6 per cent on this year’s level of £54.9m.

The letter, dated 20 October, reveals that as a result of the spending review, the grant will be “rolled into” the local authorities’ formula grant – a general funding stream that will not be ringfenced.

A spokesman for the Department for Education was unable to say whether the reductions in funding had been offset by increases to other funding streams.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children’s Trust, expressed concern over the decrease in the Care Matters grant, in light of the overall cuts to council budgets.

“If there is a cutback in money to children in care at a time when the number of children going into care is increasing, local authorities are going to be hit with a double whammy,” he said.

The letter also shows that there will be a reduction in money intended to pay for child death review processes, which stood at £7.7m this year. For each of the next four years, just £3.5m has been set aside, a cut of 54.6 per cent.