Conservative councillors fear funding cuts in children’s services will harm their chances in next election
Monday, September 2, 2019
More than two thirds of councillors are worried their local councils would be left financially unstable if Government funding cuts continued over the next five years.
More than half of Conservative councillors believe reduced funding for children’s services has a negative impact on children, according to the results of a poll by UK charities.
The Survation poll of 502 Conservative councillors in England was commissioned by The Children’s Society, Action for Children and the National Children’s Bureau. It found that not only did councillors fear funding cuts would harm their chances in the next General Election, but that children were suffering as a result of them.
More than two thirds of councillors feared their local councils would be left financially unstable if Government funding cuts continued over the next five years, while nearly 70 per cent agreed that Government cuts had made it harder for their council to fulfil duties to children in their area, such as child protection and supporting children in care.
The charities are urging the Government to address an estimated £3bn shortfall facing council children’s services departments by 2025, starting with this week’s Government spending round. Funding cuts have forced councils to scale back on preventative support for children and families, which has resulted in more children reaching crisis point.
Around six in 10 councillors said police, health services and schools had been under strain as a result of reduced spending on services and more than half thought spending on youth services would continue to fall over the next five years.
Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: ‘These findings must act as a real wake-up call for the Government and show that ministers need not just take our word for it that these funding cuts are having a devastating impact upon vulnerable children.
‘Councillors of all political colours are struggling to ensure their councils can provide vital early help for children and families, meaning that problems they face are more likely to reach crisis point and require more expensive interventions which are financially unsustainable for many councils.’
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: ‘Stripping back children’s services is not only leaving our most vulnerable children at risk but is also putting additional pressure on the NHS, local schools and the police.
‘Despite being told austerity is at an end, every day at Action for Children we continue to see first-hand the awful impact of children blighted by issues such as abuse and neglect struggling to get the support they need from ailing services which should be keeping them safe and well.
‘The only way to fix this country’s growing crisis in childhood - and take pressure off our over-stretched nurses, teachers and police officers - is for the government to start investing in our children. It can do this by establishing a National Childhood Strategy so the Prime Minister can get a grip on these issues, backed with funding for urgently needed services to keep children safe from harm.’
The Government spending review
It is expected the Government will announce large investments in education in the spending round this week, with potentially £2.8bn being given to schools and £800m towards children with special educational needs.
Significantly, early years provision has not been mentioned, which has sparked outcry among the sector.
David Montero, owner of Isabello’s preschool, said on Twitter: ‘What about early years funding, currently a £700m deficit in the sector. Preschoolers massively missing out!’
Early Years Alliance said on their early years funding campaign Twitter account: ‘We are extremely concerned that early years failed to get a mention in this funding update. The sector is in the midst of a funding crisis. The silence in the face of a £662m shortfall in government funding is incomprehensible and needs to be addressed urgently.’