The Local Government Association has urged the government to address the £2 billion funding gap facing children’s services in the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement.
The LGA warns that a child was referred to children’s services every 49 seconds last year and councils are struggling to cope with the rising demand for support.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We will always encourage people to refer any concerns about children to their local authority as soon as possible, so that the situation can be investigated and support or immediate protection put in place where necessary.
“But while these figures are encouraging as a reflection of heightened awareness and identification of child abuse, they also highlight the staggering scale of the pressures that have now been building on children’s services for a number of years.
“With councils now having a child referred to them every 49 seconds on a daily basis, it is vital that they have the resources necessary to provide an effective response,” he added.
There were 646,120 referrals made to children’s services during 2016/17. With 1,770 referrals being made every day, that is the equivalent of one every 49 seconds. More than 500 child protection investigations were also started on average each day in 2016/17, increasing from 200 a decade ago.
However, the LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, said children’s services face a £2 billion funding gap by 2020. Failure to close this gap will leave many children and families across the country, who desperately rely on these crucial services, at risk.
Cllr Watts added: “The government has been warned repeatedly that ongoing funding cuts, including the £2billion gap that councils face by 2020, have left them struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need.
“The £2billion funding gap must be addressed in the final Local Government Finance Settlement to ensure the support that families need from council child protection services is there now and in years to come.
“Unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention, many more vulnerable children remain at risk,” he concluded.