It seems that everyone has an opinion about the 2017 budget.
But our advice to the Chancellor is based on spending the last year hearing evidence from local authorities providing social care services to children, young people and families.
Our message is simple:
The Chancellor mustn’t ignore the fact that children’s services are at breaking point.
Let's look at the facts. Demand for child protection services has increased almost 30% in the last five years, but council spending has fallen by over 20% in the same time*. Local authorities simply can’t afford to support every child in need.
While children can’t vote, and often don’t get their voices heard in the media, they still have pressing needs and the right to a fair share of government spending. It' s just easy for politicians to overlook this.
But there is, it appears, some good news in the budget.
When confirmed, new funding for schools will be welcome, but it must be based on children’s needs, not ideology. The £320m aimed at selective free schools should be targeted at communities and children most in need of support, and help undo some of the inequalities in education that children from poor families face.
About the stats
The data that we refer to above comes from a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children due to be published on 21 March 2017.
Overall, the number of children on a child protection plan rose by almost 30 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16. For context, local authority spend on children’s services rose by just two per cent in the same period, and overall local authority expenditure dropped by more than 21 per cent.