BY JAMES TWOMEY
New figures from leading charities show that government funding for children has fallen by at least a third for each child since 2010.
Southwark has been the worst hit borough in South London, with a 43 per cent reduction in funding – making it the eighth worse off borough in the city.
Wandsworth, Greenwich and Lambeth have all seen reductions of 40 per cent, while Lewisham, Croydon and Bromley have all had to make do with 39, 36 and 29 per cent reductions respectively.
The analysis comes from Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau, which show that central government funding per child has fallen by £260 since 2010.
Chief executive at Action for Children, Julie Bentley, said: “Children’s services are at breaking point and these alarming figures reveal the true scale of the devastating and dangerous funding cuts made year after year by successive governments.
“Every day at Action for Children we see that children’s services can be a lifeline for families – from helping mums suffering with post-natal depression or families struggling to put food on the table, to spotting children quietly living in fear of domestic abuse or neglect.
Thousands of families across London rely on these services to step in and stop problems spiralling out of control.
“With the number of child protection cases and children being taken into care at their highest for a decade, it’s unthinkable to continue forcing councils to make crippling cuts to services.
Without urgent cash from central government, thousands more children at risk of neglect and abuse will slip through the cracks and into crisis.”
The charities say councils may be making up the difference by drawing on reserves or slashing spending on other areas – but the charity alliance stressed neither approach is sustainable in the long term.
Chief executive at The Children’s Society, Nick Roseveare, said: “Vulnerable children are continuing to pay the price as councils face a toxic cocktail of funding cuts and soaring demand for help.
This shocking analysis lays bare the enormous scale of this funding challenge, which is making it near impossible for councils to offer vital early support to children and young people to prevent problems escalating.
“Funding cuts are not only an inhumane economy, they are also a false one.
The reductions in early help for children they lead to simply intensify the need for more costly interventions further down the road – like taking children into care as they face growing risks, including everything from substance misuse and mental health problems, to repeatedly going missing, and being sexually or criminally exploited.
“The Government now faces a stark choice at the next Spending Review: either continue to leave councils short of the money they need to keep children safe, or address the funding gap and give some of our most vulnerable young people hope of a brighter future.”
Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “We want every child to have the best start in life, with the opportunities and the stability to fulfil their potential, which is why we have made £200 billion available to councils up to 2020 for local services including those for children and young people.
“The government announced £84 million in evidence-based interventions which will help to reduce demand, saving money for local authorities, as well as providing a further £270 million for councils to develop improvements in their services.
The number of local children’s services rated outstanding is growing, and the number rated inadequate has dropped by a third since 2017 – from 30 down to 19. By 2022, I want this reduced to fewer than 10 per cent of councils, and we are on track to meet this.”