Today the National Audit Office have released a new report, titled ‘Pressures on children’s services‘, which outlines the demand-led pressures faced by local authorities in delivering children’s services.
The report’s research builds on previous County Councils Network analysis which shows that councils collectively overspent by £800m on children’s services in 2017/18; 91% of authorities.
It also shows the demand-led pressures faced by councils, with children in care rising at triple the population rate nationally.
Below, the County Councils Network has responded to the report.
Cllr Carl Les, County Councils Network children’s services and education spokesman, said:
“Today’s figures from the National Audit Office are another illustration of the unsustainable nature of children’s services – with demand far outstripping current funding levels. As the findings today show, the number of children in care, and the number of child protection plans are far outstripping population growth and show no signs of abating.
“As a result, local authorities overspent by over £800m on children’s services last year, with county authorities the most vulnerable to overspends – spending £264m more than they budgeted. This trend looks set to continue with demand continuing to rise. Government must provide extra funding to protect vulnerable children in the Spending Review, otherwise counties will have to continue to cut other services or using their reserves to make up the shortfall.
“The rise in demand for children’s services is incredibly complex and cannot simply be put down to population increases. We want to work with government to fully understand what is driving demand, as well as offering our experience of delivering services on the ground in a challenging financial climate – with many high-profile examples of county authorities successfully re-shaping services so they offer more for less.”