It has been reported that the Government’s funding cuts to early support are resulting in detrimental consequences for at risk youth.
What the Data Shows
Over the last 12 years the Government has slashed central funding for local authorities (“LAs”) by nearly 40%. This has resulted in LAs removing services which they are not legally required to deliver, like early intervention support for children and young people.
The poorest communities, and arguably the children that require this help the most, have been hit the hardest with spending on services being cut in half from from £3.8bn in 2010-11 to £1.9bn in 2020-21.These spending cuts also end up costing LAs more in the long run because they are forced to spend more on crisis support, which is more costly than early intervention support. In the same period, spending on statutory crisis services increased by 37% from £6bn to £8.2bn. Research by Pro Bono Economics shows that 80%, up from 58% in 2010-11, of LAs’ children’s social care support now goes towards crisis intervention services, which LAs are legally required to deliver.
This also leaves youth more exposed to risks such as exploitation, neglect and mental ill-health because crisis intervention spending is often reactionary. Children and teenagers have reported that they feel they need to “get hurt or harm someone” before they can get help. According to the data, thousands more young people are going into care and requiring crisis help. From 2010-11 to 2020-21 the number of children in care jumped up by 24% to 80,000. It is estimated that 100,000 children will be in care by 2032 at the current rates.
Calls for Help & Government Response
The coalition of charities has asked the new prime minister to use his or her first Budget to invest additional funds in children’s social care for 2023-24.
The Government has responded stating, “We have made an additional £3.7bn available to councils this year alone to help them deliver key services and support families.”
However, as the £3.7bn this year is falling short and there is only a recommended £2.6bn increase for 2023-24 currently, it is unclear how the Government’s current initiatives and support will be sustainable in the long run. This comes on the back of over a decade of funding cuts to these crucial services.
Discontent with the Conservatives
The Government’s response and current attitude is not winning it any points with the other political parties or sector leaders either.
Labour’s shadow minister for children, Helen Hayes, and Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Munira Wilson, have both indicated that the current Conservative Government has failed to place the appropriate priority on children, calling it “morally bankrupt.”
The Children’s Society Chief Executive echoes these sentiments asking the Government to finally give children’s service teams the support they need and take their levelling up pledge seriously.
Imran Hussain, Director of Policy & Campaigns at Action for Children, has also called for similar support stating that the last decade of decisions by the Government has put LAs in an impossible position and that LAs need investment in preventative services.
What is clear through all of this is that targeted funding is required. According to the independent review’s chair Josh MacAlister, “Tinkering at the edges while continuing to pour money into a crumbling system is unsustainable.”
Thus there seems to be a consensus that the Government needs to get serious about helping to support vulnerable children across the nation or otherwise risk the wellbeing of the nation’s youth.