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Masthead Education - Child Protection

Action urged on funding gap as child protection investigations reach 500 a day

More than 500 child protection investigations were started every single day on average last year by councils, the Local Government Association has revealed.

LGA research revealed that councils began 185,450 ‘section 47 Children Act 1989 enquiries’ during the year ending 31 March 2017. For the year ending 31 March 2007, this figure was 73,800.

Adding that some 90 children were now entering the care system every day, the Association urged the Government to use the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to resolve what it claimed is a £2bn funding gap facing children’s services by 2020.

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “It is alarming that councils are having to undertake around 300 more investigations every day than this time 10 years ago. By 2020, our children’s services departments will be facing a funding gap of £2 billion.

“It was extremely disappointing that last month’s Budget provided no additional funding for children’s services. The Government has been warned repeatedly that ongoing funding cuts have left councils struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need.”

Cllr Watts added: “Children will only be taken into care if it is absolutely necessary for their own protection. But if concerns are raised, it is absolutely right that the council investigates. With councils now starting 500 child protection investigations each day, along with providing the other vital services that they deliver, children’s services have now reached a tipping point.

“This has to be wake up call to government that unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention services, many more vulnerable children and families will need formal support from council child protection services in the years to come.”

He said: “Last year, 75%of councils were forced to overspend their budgets by millions to ensure children at immediate risk of harm were protected. We’ve reached the point where this service can no longer be ignored. It is absolutely crucial that the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement addresses this funding gap.”

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