Social workers are starting new cases for more than 1,000 children each day as council leaders warn children’s services will be pushed to a tipping point without further new money.
Ahead of the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester next week, the Local Government Association said the figures underline the huge demand pressures children’s services departments are facing and reinforces the desperate need for new long-term funding.
Latest figures show that in 2017/18, 382,180 children in England were referred and assessed as in need of the support of social services, this is known as starting an “episode of need”.
This equates to children’s services taking on new cases for 1,047 children every day of the year.
The most common reason for a child being identified as needing social care support was abuse or neglect (53.2 per cent of children in need), followed by family dysfunction (15.4 per cent), and a child’s disability or illness (8.7 per cent).
In the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced £410 million for adult and children’s social care in 2019/20, with a further £85 million over five years to expand children’s social care programmes in 20 areas.
While councils are pleased to receive any extra funding, this falls well short of the amount children’s services need, with an estimated £3 billion funding gap by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.
Without additional funding these vital services, which keep children safe from harm and the worst abuses of society, will reach a tipping point.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“These figures highlight the sheer volume of cases that are being started by social workers on a daily basis, and illustrate the scale of demand for help from children and their families.
“But a lack of long-term funding is pushing children’s services to a tipping point, and threatens to undermine the vital support councils provide in protecting children and keeping them safe from harm.
“While it was good the Chancellor announced some new money in the Budget, this will not tackle the immediate and future pressures on services.
“The Government needs to properly tackle the immediate funding crisis facing children’s services and use next year’s Spending Review to deliver a long-term sustainable funding solution that enables councils to keep some of our most vulnerable children safe from harm and the worst abuses of society.”