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Councils forced to halve spending on early support putting more children at risk

New research shows a dramatic decrease in early intervention support by councils

The research, jointly commissioned by The Children’s Society, Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau and the NSPCC and carried out by think tank Pro Bono Economics, found dwindling funding for early support services – ranging from children’s centres and youth clubs, to targeted support with issues like drug and alcohol misuse - meaning families were missing out on getting help early enough to stop problems spiralling out of control.

The study found that poorest council areas were hardest hit as investment in services for families plummeted – undermining the Levelling Up agenda as cost-of-living crisis hits.

The findings have led to a call from the leading children’s charities, to the Prime Ministerial candidates to commit to implementing children’s social care review and for urgent new funding in the next Budget, so all children and families who need it get vital early support.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Behind these shocking figures, which saw spending on services for young people fall by three-quarters (74%) from £1.3bn to £300m, are children who have missed out on vital early support, many of whom end up in care.

“Young people have told us they felt they needed to get hurt or harm someone in order be taken seriously.

“It’s a big concern that children in deprived areas, where needs may be greatest, are often among those least likely to get help before problems spiral out of control.

“If ministers are serious about Levelling Up they must better target funding to the areas that need it most. But councils everywhere have struggled amid government funding cuts and this is why we are calling on whoever becomes the next Prime Minister to ensure children’s services teams across the country get the extra funding they desperately need, sooner not later.”