Council-reported incidents of child harm increased by nearly a fifth over the last year, prompting calls for more funding for children’s services.
The Local Government Association (LGA) found there were 536 notifications of child-related serious incidents during 2020/2021. This is a 19% increase from 2019/2020
Child death related notices also increased by 19%.
The LGA is now calling for more funding for children’s social care in the next spending review to help protect children.
“Extra pressure on families”
The LGA is worried that abuse and neglect were more likely to go unnoticed during the year’s lockdowns, and expressed concern pressure from the pandemic could increase the risk to children’s safety.
Youngest children are the most at risk, with 36% of the incidents reported in 2020/21 relating to children under the age of one.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
Supporting and protecting vulnerable children is one of the most important roles played by councils who want to ensure all children are safe, loved and thrive, so this rise in serious incident notifications is particularly harrowing and a huge cause for concern.
The pandemic has put extra pressure on families, particularly those living in difficult circumstances, which can fuel harmful acts of abuse or neglect on children.
Councils have been working hard with their partners to identify this and provide the help children need, but it is vital that children’s social care services are funded to meet this need.
In 2019/2020, the demand for safeguarding services saw councils across the UK overspend on children’s social care budgets by £832m. This is despite councils diverting £1.1bn to children’s services over the last two years.
The LGA now wants central government to invest in children’s social care so councils can provide early and preventative services to families.
Early intervention funding has been cut over the last decade. The LGA report that the Early Intervention Grant to councils has been slashed by £1.7bn since 2010.
According to Action for Children, many councils cannot afford to pay for early intervention services.
The group further found that spending on children’s services dropped by 9% in the north of England from 2010/11 to 2018/19, compared to 3% in the south. This has led to a north-south divide in funding children’s services.
Action for Children estimated in 2020 that failing to give children’s services extra funding could lead to a £3bn funding gap by 2025.
At the end of 2020, Action for Children and Barnardo’s warned that children’s services were at “breaking point”.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said at the time:
We have long warned about the ‘perfect storm’ in children’s social care. In every community children face growing challenges, from knife crime and gangs, to cyber-bullying and online grooming, to a crisis in mental health.
It’s even harder for families struggling to make ends meet. And in many areas the services they once relied on just aren’t there anymore.
As a result, far too often families are reaching crisis point – with rising numbers of children being taken into local authority care. At Barnardo’s we see the impact of this failure to step in early. Children are suffering from trauma, affecting their education, health and happiness, with lifelong impact.
Featured image via pixabay/jatocreate
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?