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Local authority spending on children's services rises

Local authority spending on children's services rises. Spending on children's services increased the most out of all local authority expenditure, the government has said.

Expenditure on children’s social care increased by £368 million from £8.4 billion to £8.8 billion - an increase of 4.3% in 2017-2018, the provisional outturn estimates of local authority revenue expenditure and financing for 2017 to 2018 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed.

“Last year saw the biggest annual increase in children in care since 2010 and councils are now starting 500 child protection investigations every day. This rise in demand for child protection support, means councils are increasingly only able to provide urgent help for children and families already at crisis point, leaving very little to invest in early intervention," said Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board.

Total Local Authority Service Expenditure was £90.0bn in 2017-18, down £447m (0.5%) compared to 2016-17. The second fastest rising category for expeenditure was adult social care which increased by £435m - a rise of 2.9% from £14.9 billion to £15.3 billion in 2017-18.

Children's social care now accounts for 9.8 per cent of the £90 billion 2017-18 expenditure while adult social care accounts for 17.1 per cent.

However, spending on education services fell by £1 billion or 3.2% from 2016-17 due to an increase in local authority funded schools converting to academies.

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, added: “Local government in England faces an overall funding gap of almost £8 billion by 2025. As these figures show, councils are increasingly having to divert money from other services to meet an unprecedented surge in demand for children’s and adult social care.

“Councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year. Increased spend on adult social care – which now accounts for nearly 40 per cent of total council budgets - is threatening the future of other vital council services, such as parks, leisure centres and libraries, which help to keep people well and from needing care and support and hospital treatment.

“That is why the LGA has launched its own adult social care green paper to kick-start a desperately-needed debate on how to pay for adult social care and rescue the services caring for older and disabled people from collapse.

“More and more councils are struggling to balance their books. The next Spending Review will be make or break for local services and must recognise the urgent need to tackle the funding gap facing local government," he concluded.

Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing: 2017-18 Provisional Outturn, England

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