Children’s services overspending hits new high of £800 million a year, Budget data shows
- Labour analysis of data released alongside the Budget shows that children’s social care spending exceeded budgets by £800m last year
- The over-spend is a new high, doubling since 2015, and accounts for nearly all of the total council over-spend in England
- Demand on children’s services has continued to grow year on year but government funding has been cut
Local authorities are now over-spending their budgets for children’s social care by £800 million a year, according to data published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) alongside this week’s Budget.
The analysis reflects rising pressure on children’s services and cuts to funding in recent years. In 2012-13 the overspend on children’s social care was only £100 million, reaching £400m by 2015 and doubling since.
Children’s social care now amounts to the vast majority of total over-spending by English local authorities, which the OBR found was just over £1bn in the last fiscal year.
Services have been under increasing pressure, with figures released by the Government only last week showing that there were record numbers of children in need and children subject to a child protection plan.
However, funding to councils has been cut in half in real terms since the Conservatives came to office in 2010, and funds for early intervention ceased to be ring-fenced under the coalition government.
The additional social care funding announced in the Budget, which must cover both adult and children’s social care, is not enough to reverse the current overspend even if it were all spent on children’s services.
Budget small print also revealed that the separate ring-fenced fund announced by the Chancellor of £84m is spread over five years and only available for 20 councils, meaning it amounts to less than a million pounds a year per authority, and fewer than one in eight councils will benefit.
Commenting, Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“The Prime Minister promised that austerity was over, but it is clear that the most vulnerable children in society will continue to suffer for years to come.
“The huge increase in overspending on these vital services is a direct result of rising demand for services and ideological Conservative cuts from Whitehall, detached from the real impact of their decisions.
“The next Labour government will provide councils with sustainable funding and create a ring-fenced £500m fund for Sure Start, so that councils can deliver the services our communities need.”