Spending on children and young people's services cut by nearly £1bn in six years, figures reveal

Government accused of ‘slashing’support for those that need it mostafter it emergesplanned net expenditure on children and young people’s services down£956,881 in real terms.

Spending on children and young people’s services has been axed by nearly £1bn in real terms over the past six years, new analysis shows, prompting concerns that thousands of families are missing out on “lifeline” support -writes independent.co.uk.

The Labour Party has accused the government of “slashing support for those that need it most” after it found the planned net expenditure onservicesforchildren and young peoplehas seen a real terms cut of £960m.

The party’s analysis of government figures shows that in 2012 the planned spending stood at £7.9bn, but by 2017it had fallen to £7.6bn. While this is a nominal cut of more than £300m, it represents a near billion figure when inflation is taken into account.

It comes amid warnings from the Local Government Association (LGA) thatlocal authorities are struggling to provide support for vulnerable children and families, andface a funding gap of £2bn by 2020.

A report by three leading children’s charities in November revealed that “crippling” central government cuts had left councils with no option but to close services designed to detect early signs of child neglect and abuse – forcing them to direct to a “crisis” firefighting model.

Demand for crisis support for children has risen sharply as council spending on services that are designed to spot signs of neglect and abuse early has fallen by 40 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015, the report found. Over the same period, there was a 108 per cent increase in child protection investigations.

A separate study found that benefit cuts and increased levels of poverty across the UK were the primary cause for the surgein demand for children’sservices, while a lack of resources to provide universal services like children’s centres and youth clubs also played a significant part.

The new figures come as Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner, theshadow education secretary,are due to make a visit to Swindon where all the Sure Start Children’sCentres have been closed down by the Conservative-ledcouncil. Spending on children’s and young people’s Services in the South-west has fallen by £51msince 2012.

In light of the new figures,Ms Rayner said: “Children’s services provide a lifeline to thousands of vulnerable children and families across the country, so it is incredibly worrying to see funding has fallen so dramatically in the past six years.”

She went on to accuse the government of “presiding over damaging cuts, slashing support for those that need help the most”.

The analysis comes a day after headteachers warned that malnourished children were stuffing their pockets with food and turning up to school in dirty uniforms as the numbers living in poverty grows.

Staff told the National Education Union conference thatpupilswere arriving to school on Monday wearing uniforms they hadbeen in all weekend, while others were not turningup to school because they have no shoes.

Government statistics published last week , meanwhile,showed that the number of children in poverty across the UKsurged by 100,000 in a year, with4.1 million children now living in relative poverty after household costs, compared with 4 million the previous year.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want every child to receive high quality care and support.

“Spending on the most vulnerable children ‎has increased by around half a billion pounds since 2010, and overall the government has made more than £200 billion available for council services up to 2020.

“On top of this we are working with councils to improve services and to share best practice across the country – and ‎just last month the Children and Families Minister announced £17 million to support this.”

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