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Children's social care at breaking point, council leaders warn

Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals pressure on budgets

New analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that in 2015/16 councils surpassed their children's social care budgets by £605 million.

The LGA says that councils have faced an unprecedented surge in demand for children's social care support over recent years, which is showing little sign of abating. More than 170,000 children were subject to child protection enquiries in 2015/16, compared to 71,800 in 2005/06 – a 140 per cent increase in 10 years.

The number of children on child protection plans increased by almost 24,000 over the same period, while ongoing cuts to local authority budgets are forcing many areas to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.

The LGA is warning that the pressures facing children's services are rapidly becoming unsustainable, with a £2 billion funding gap expected by 2020. Unless urgent action is taken to reduce the number of families relying on the children's social care system for support, says the LGA, this gap will continue to grow.

The struggle faced by councils attempting to balance increased demand alongside reduced funding is, in the view of the LGA, starkly illustrated by the closure of 365 children's centres and 603 youth centres since 2012, as local authorities are forced to make difficult decisions about the way in which they deliver these services.

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10/8/17