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Children’s services funding plummets, charity analysis reveals

Children’s services funding plummets, charity analysis reveals

Funding available for children’s services has fallen by a third per child in England since 2010 according to an analysis of official figures by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau.

The analysis has identified a number of “hotspots” across England, where local councils have faced the biggest real-term drops in this funding.

These include London, which has the top five worst-hit councils. Westminster tops the list with funding down by more than half (51%), followed by Tower Hamlets (49%), Camden (49%), Newham (46%) and Hackney (46%). Areas including Manchester (45% drop), Nottingham (43%) and Birmingham (43%) also made it into the country’s top twenty hotspots for cuts to funding.

According to the analysis, councils are facing a £3 billion funding gap for children’s services by 2025. Over 1,000 children’s centres have closed since 2009, while 760 youth centres have shut since 2012. The charities are warning that thousands more children and young people could fall into crisis if these cuts continue.

Chief Executive at Action for Children, Julie Bentley, said:

“Children’s services are at breaking point and these alarming figures reveal the true scale of the devastating and dangerous funding cuts made year after year by successive governments.

“With the number of child protection cases and children being taken into care at their highest for a decade, it’s unthinkable to continue forcing councils to make crippling cuts to services. Without urgent cash from central government, thousands more children at risk of neglect and abuse will slip through the cracks and into crisis.”

Nick Roseveare, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said:

“This shocking analysis lays bare the enormous scale of this funding challenge, which is making it near impossible for councils to offer vital early support to children and young people to prevent problems escalating.

“Funding cuts are not only an inhumane economy, they are also a false one. The reductions in early help for children they lead to simply intensify the need for more costly interventions further down the road.

 “The Government now faces a stark choice at the next Spending Review: either continue to leave councils short of the money they need to keep children safe, or address the funding gap and give some of our most vulnerable young people hope of a brighter future.”

To work out the drop in funding, the charities took 2010/11 as the baseline year, and modelled funding for children and young people’s services over the following years accordingly, assuming that spending on children and young people’s services in that year was equivalent to the funding available. It estimates that funding available per child and young person for all children’s services except schools and early education fell from £813 in 2010-11 to £553 in 2017-18.  

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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