FAMILIES with vulnerable kids are being refused help from cash-strapped councils, the children’s commissioner has warned.
Anne Longfield has written to ministers urging them to step in and guarantee protection for 1.5 million youngsters in local authority areas plagued by financial problems.
Rex Features 1.5million vulnerable kids are being refused help by cash-strapped councils, the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has warned
She declared: “I can see and hear every day from families and children who simply can’t get help.”
Her comments come after Tory-run Northamptonshire and East Sussex councils announced swingeing cuts in a range of services caused by funding shortfalls.
Ms Longfield said: “I’m extremely worried that the financial difficulties that Northamptonshire County Council are facing will mean that they are not going to be protecting the services for the most vulnerable children, which could have catastrophic consequences for those children.”
In an indication of the scale of the problem across England, Ms Longfield said work carried out with the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed “half of all the spending on children’s services goes on the 70,000 children who are in care”, and “if you add in those who are on the child protection registers, that’s over 80 per cent, leaving very, very little for any others”.
Anne Longfield’s comments come after Tory-run Northamptonshire – pictured – and East Sussex councils announced swingeing cuts in services
She told the BBC: “Councils have been warning for some time that they are not going to be able to meet their statutory requirements.”
There were around 1.5 million children living in families with very high needs such as “severe mental health problems, domestic violence in the household” who were not getting “any form of substantial help”.
She warned: “If you don’t help children when the problems aren’t at crisis point then the crisis is going to be developing and also it is going to be much more costly when it gets to that point.”
The money in the system had remained the same for 10 years but was now being spent on “fewer children who are costing more because it is at crisis point”, she said, and pointed out that the Local Government Association had warned of a £2billion “black hole”.
PA:Press Association Around 1.5 million children are living in families with very high needs such as ‘severe mental health problems or domestic violence’
Tory MP Chris Philp, a ministerial aide to Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, insisted councils were getting more money.
He said: “Of course we have had to save money as a country because we had an enormous deficit eight or nine years ago and we haven’t completely got rid of it.
“But one of the areas that local councils across the country have quite rightly protected are children’s services.
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“If you look at the amount of money being spent on children’s services, the National Audit Office reported in March this year that actually real terms spending on children’s services has gone up by about 3% across the country, so councils have very sensibly and wisely particularly protected children’s services, and that’s definitely the right thing to do.”
Over the next two financial years “the spending power that local authorities have in real terms is going to go up by about £2 billion”, he added.