Children's services budgets are set to rise by more than six per cent in 2019-20, figures suggest.
A statistical release from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says that expenditure on children's services is £9.1 billion budgeted in 2019-20, up £535 million (6.2%) compared to the 2018-19 budget.
"Children’s social care [is] up overall by £535 million (+6.2%) to £9.1 billion in 2019-20. The largest changes within this are from expenditure on: i) looked after children, which continues to be the highest budgeted area of spend at £4.5 billion, up by £352 million (8.4%) compared to 2018-19 budget and ii) safeguarding of children of £2.2 billion, up by £188 million (9.2%) from the previous year," said the release.
The total expenditure on councils services is budgeted to be £96.2 billion in 2019-20, £3.6 billion (3.8%) higher than the £92.6 billion budgeted for 2018-19.
The rise in children's services budgets are a contributory factor along with a 4.1 per cent rise in adult social care to £16.8 billion budgeted in 2019-20, a 6.7 per cent rise in police services taking their budget to £12.1 billion in 2019-20 and a 14.4 per cent increase in highways and transport taking their budget to £4.9 billion in 2019-20.
"Adult social care and children’s social care are large elements of council expenditure, and whose expenditure accounts for 17% and 9% across all expenditure of all authorities,2 said the release.
Matt Dunkley, Chair of the ADCS Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee, said the figures show that councils remain committed to protecting spend on statutory children’s services.
"What the data doesn’t show is the tough decisions councils will continue to have to make in order to manage rising need for services and reducing budgets. Local authorities are having to divert funding away from the very services that help children and families earlier as needs arise and reduce future demand e.g. children’s centres and youth services as well as other services that are valued by our communities, such as bin collections and libraries. The Treasury must recognise that this is neither a sensible nor sustainable fiscal approach and is only storing up huge financial and human costs for the future," he added.