Children’s care services ‘stuck in crisis mode’

By William Eichler | 20 May 2022

Council leaders have called for reform of the children’s social care system as research shows spending to provide support to vulnerable children has increased by almost a quarter in five years.

The latest figures, published by the Local Government Association (LGA), showed that councils in England spent more than £10.5bn on children’s social care in 2020-21 – nearly a quarter higher than in 2016-17, when expenditure was almost £8.5bn.

Figures also showed that more than two-thirds of councils are being forced to overspend to keep up with rising demand to support vulnerable children.

Councils overspent by more than £800m in the year 2020-21 despite councils increasing their budgets by £708m that year and by £1bn in the past two years.

In the past decade, the number of Section 47 enquiries - carried out when councils have reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering or at risk of significant harm - has increased from 111,700 in 2011 to 198,790 in 2021 – a rise of 78%.

The number of children in care in England has increased from 65,510 in 2011 to 80,850 in 2021 – a 23% rise.

Chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, Anntoinette Bramble, said: ‘Children’s social care services have been stuck in crisis mode for too long.

'Spiralling costs and increased demand means that funding is largely supporting those in most urgent need of help.’

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