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New study shows spending on early help services for vulnerable children has been cut in half

Research by the Children’s Services Funding Alliance has provided more evidence highlighting the demise of the children’s social care system.

The Alliance, which includes Barnardo’s, Action for Children, NSPCC the National Children’s Bureau and the Children’s Society has published a report revealing that between 2010 and 2020 local authorities in England reduced spending on early intervention services from £3.6bn to £1.8bn.

The group also estimates that government funding available to councils for children’s services fell by 24% from £9.9 billion to £7.5 billion in real terms between 2010/11 and 2019/20.

Families in the poorest parts of England are suffering the most, with some councils reducing spending on early intervention services by over 80% with analysis of council budgets between 2010 and 2020 also revealing overall spending on children’s services in the most deprived areas has fallen by 14% per child.

This cut in spending is set against a backcloth of increasing charges with the average annual cost of a child in care rising from £53k to £64k over the same period.

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said:  “It is unacceptable that so many children and families are being let down and denied the support that could allow them to enjoy happy and stable lives. This isn’t simply the result of a more risk-averse system. It is inescapably linked to the devastating erosion of central Government funding for children’s services over the past decade. The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care recently likened the system to a wobbly Jenga tower: this report by leading children’s charities shows just how unstable the foundations really are.”