Council spending on childrens services rises faster than any other council service figures, from the Office for National Statistics has shown.
The Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing: 2018-19 Budget, England, showed that the largest increase in expenditure within local authorities is children’s social care which has £8.6bn budgeted in 2018-19, up £542 million compared to 2017-18 budget, a rise of 6.8%.
Matt Dunkley, Chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee said: “The fact that local authorities are choosing to divert funding away from their other services to prop up children’s services in the face of a huge increase in demand, should send out a warning shot across the sector.”
Total revenue expenditure by all local authorities in England is budgeted to be £95.9 billion in 2018-19 - 1.6% higher than the £94.5 billion budgeted for 2017-18.
The increase in spending on children’s services is largely due to expenditure on looked after children which is £4.2bn, up by £350m (9.1%) compared to 2017-18 budget, and safeguarding of children of £2.0bn, up by £128m (6.7%) compared to the 2017-18 budget.
Spending on adult social care is projected to rise by £496 million, education will increase by £520 million and the police will see a rise of £229m.
However, children’s services spending only accounts for 9% of council’s total expenditure. Overall, funding for education accounts for 37% of the total expenditure for local authorities and is ring-fenced while adult social care accounts for 17% of total expenditure, police accounts for 12% and ‘other services’ make up 24% of spending.
Matt Dunkley said: “We are facing an unprecedented surge in demand for some of our most expensive child protection services while at the same time we are having to cut the very services that we know reduce that demand.”
“The burden of austerity has fallen largely on children and families, as is evidenced by the growth in child poverty and demand for our services. Although we welcome the increased spend by councils on children’s services, this is still not enough to keep pace with the rising cost of demand, and is still only 9% of planned council spend overall. This does not represent a long term solution.
“We urge government to take action by plugging the funding gap of at least £2 billion expected in children’s services by 2020 and to help us to turn the tide of demand for statutory services,” he conclud