More than half of councils plan to close children’s centres

Analysis of council financing by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that over half of councils in England are planning to slash costs by closing children’s centres, reducing support for disabled children and cutting child protection teams.

According to the media organisation, the costs of supporting vulnerable children pushes almost all councils over budget, with nine out of ten councils expected to spend more money than they bring in by the end of March this year - with one overspending by £14 million. 57 of the 101 councils studied were planning to make cuts in children’s services.

The Local Government Information Unit recently revealed that 31.8 per cent say finding money to pay for children’s social care is their biggest immediate concern.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “These findings are deeply concerning. Unless the government finally listens to the demands of councillors, parents and politicians of all parties, and makes a change of direction, then more vulnerable children will go without the care that they need, and councils will be pushed dangerously close to the financial brink.”

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, added: “Local authorities have seen significant cuts to their funding while facing rising demand for children’s services. These pressures have forced them to cut back on spending on early intervention, which could reduce costs and help children and families before their problems escalate. It is little wonder that many councils are struggling, budgets are woefully inadequate for the challenges they face.”