Council spending on services designed to identify the early signs of neglect or abuse of children fell by 40% over the past five years, research has revealed.
A report jointly commissioned by The Children’s Society, Action for Children and the National Children’s Bureau found early intervention funding fell from £3.6bn to £2.2bn in real terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16.
Turning the Tide, published today, also said total spending by councils on children’s social care rose by 7% at a time when there was a 108% rise in referrals to social services and a 31% increase in the number of children subject to child protection plans.
The research found that councils in Yorkshire and Humber cut children’s services budgets by the largest amount (25%), while councils in the south east and south west reduced spending by 1%.
The report says this provides evidence that reductions in central government grants since 2010 have resulted in greater reductions to the spending power of councils in the most deprived areas.
The Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said reductions in government funding have left councils less able to respond to rising demand.
He added: “All too often central government shrugs off responsibility for council spending decisions but the figures are stark and undeniable.
“Councils are being denied the funding they need to provide safe, effective children’s services and spending on vital support is collapsing as a result.
“The government must step up and give councils the funds they need to protect our children.”