A group of more than 120 children’s organisations, a coalition of charities, unions and organisations have warned that children’s services are at breaking point. [And] are being ignored in the Government’s spending plans.
They have urged the government to stop “ignoring children.”
In an open letter to the prime minister and chancellor, the coalition is calling for action urgent to prioritise children and families in the government’s spending decisions.
The letter states: ‘We are writing to you because there is compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point.
‘We believe this is because children and young people are being ignored in the Government’s spending plans.’
90 children are taken into care every day. [And] up to three million children are at risk of going hungry over the school holidays according to the coalition.
Grave concerns across the sector.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“This is a compelling demonstration of the grave concerns shared across the sector. As funding cuts increasingly leave services struggling to provide the care and support that thousands of children and families rely on.”
“Councils have long-called for the Government to recognise the urgency of the funding crisis facing children’s services. [which] are fast approaching a tipping point and face a funding gap of £3bn by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.”
Letter backed by many working in children’s services.
Representatives of those working in health, education, social care, poverty and disability backed the letter.
The timing of the release of the letter comes as the chancellor makes budget preparations. [And] after recent statements from the prime minister that the end of austerity was in sight.
Campaigns from council leaders and head teachers have been ongoing for a long time. Aimed at increased investment from government as their budgets for education and children’s services have faced not only rising costs but also increasing demand.
Many groups across a range of organisations supporting children have added their signatures. Groups supporting schoolchildren who experience bullying, mental health problems and those with disabilities or special needs.
There are also representatives of those supporting children at risk or in care and bodies involved in adoption and fostering procedures.
Education and social services are devolved to the UK’s respective nations, although the campaign is targeted at Westminster.
The coalition is using the hashtag #ChildrenAtTheHeart.
The letter says:
“We are writing to you because there is compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point.
“We believe this is because children and young people are being ignored in the government’s spending plans.”
The letter points out some of the reasons why children are in need of more help. It asserts that a total of 90 children are being taken into care every day – a record high.
Fewer than a third of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health problem will get access to NHS-funded treatment this year.
Only three in 100 families of disabled children think the health and care services available to their children are adequate.
Almost three-quarters of school leaders expect they will be unable to balance their budgets in the next financial year.
The number of children with special educational needs who are awaiting suitable provision has more than doubled since 2010.
Up to three million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays.
What the experts say.
The chief executive of Children England, Kathy Evans, one of the signatories, said children should not have to pay for the “recklessness” of bankers and politicians.”
“Austerity is not over for children – it’s getting worse. Theresa May must stop it.”
Another, Dr Carol Hamden, head of Coram children’s charity, said: “Working with more than one million children, young people, families and professionals, we have seen first-hand how severely cuts to services and support have affected them.”
“Children are waiting longer to be adopted, others have been denied access to free legal advice and representation – going homeless or being excluded from education.”
And Alison Garnham, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“Big social security cuts are pulling more and more of our children under the official poverty line, so nine children in every class of 30 are living under the official poverty line.”
What the government said.
In a statement, the government said:
“We want all children to have the support they need to live healthy and happy lives, with the knowledge and skills to fulfil their potential.”
“That is why we have made £200bn available to councils up to 2020 for local services, including to support children and young people, and why core schools funding is increasing to £43.5bn by 2020, including £6bn of funding specifically for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities.”
“However, we do understand the pressures, including funding, faced by local children’s services as well as schools.”
The statement said children and young people’s mental health was a top priority. With a proposed new workforce aiming to provide timely and effective support. While “£1.4bn has been made available to ensure that 70,000 additional children and young people a year will be able to access NHS specialist services by 2020-21”.