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Eight in 10 councils forced to overspend on children’s social care budgets

More than eight in 10 councils in England responsible for children's social care overspent in the year to 2019/20. This comes despite councils increasing their budgets by £535 million that year and by £1.1 billion in the past two years.

Increasing demand to help safeguard children and funding pressures meant councils in England had to overspend on children's social care budgets by £832 million in 2019/20, according to Local Government Association analysis.

The LGA says that councils want to work with government to prioritise a child-centred recovery plan and play a leading role in the government-commissioned independent review of the care system, alongside children, families, and partners. The association considers that this must include a long-term sustainable funding solution so councils can protect children at risk of harm. Councils are also urging government to reinstate the £1.7 billion removed from the Early Intervention Grant since 2010 to help prevent problems escalating in the first place.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, reveals that:

This sharp rise in need for urgent child protection services in recent years has meant councils have been forced to divert limited resources from the early intervention and preventative services which help families and young people before they reach crisis point, into services to protect those at immediate risk. Despite increasing budgets, councils are still having to cut universal and early help services, such as children's centres and youth services, in order to prioritise spend on looked-after children and child protection services.

The LGA said councils fear the pandemic will further fuel demand for children's services with councils having even less money available to help young people and families in need of support.

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