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Public spending on children in England: 2000 to 2020 is stable but there are some worrying trends

The  Institute for Fiscal Studies, have released their report into levels of government spending on children in England between 2000 and 2020,  including benefits, education spending, services for vulnerable children and healthcare.

In the most recent year of data (2017–18), total spending was over £120 billion equating to over £10,000 per child under 18, 42% higher (in real terms) than it was in 2000/1, but 10% below its high point of £11,300 in 2010/11. Current public spending on children is due to remain at about £10,000 per child until 2019/20, the same level in real terms as it was in 2006/07.

Within the overall figures, however, there are some worrying trends. The report indicates that mainstream and acute services such as age 4-16 education and provision for children in care have been protected at the expense of targeted preventative services, removing vital safety nets for some very vulnerable children. The 60% cut in Sure Start and youth services will see an increasing number of vulnerable children fall through the gaps.

The report shows that England now spends nearly half of its entire children’s services budget on 73,000 children in the care system – leaving the other half for the remaining 11.7 million children.

Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield who commissioned the report commented: "Children do not arrive in extreme need overnight and many could be prevented from getting to that point if we helped them sooner in a more effective way. We are, in effect, attempting to manage and contain crisis in children’s lives after allowing it to escalate. The economic and social costs are unsustainable. The cost to the state will ultimately be greater, but it is the lifetime cost to these children which we should be most troubled by. They only have one childhood, one chance to grow up.

Already we see the costs of helping children later in life, or of allowing greater numbers to become marginalised – in the current pressures on family courts, special schools and the care system; in spiralling numbers of school exclusions and the consequent increase in younger and younger children linked to violent street gangs.

I hope this analysis will now help to move the debate on from one simply about the headline amount we spend on children, and to a debate about how we spend it”

 For the full report  Click Here