Children's services receive referral every 49 seconds

The Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that there were 646,120 referrals to councils’ children’s services during 2016/17, equaling one referral every 49 seconds.

With children’s services facing a £2 billion funding gap by 2020, the LGA has warned that the government must use the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement to address the gap, stressing that a failure to do so could leave many children and families at further risk.

According to the body’s figures, over 500 child protection investigations were also started each day in 2016/17, increasing from 200 a decade ago, leaving social workers struggling to cope with rising demand for support.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We will always encourage people to refer any concerns about children to their local authority as soon as possible, so that the situation can be investigated and support or immediate protection put in place where necessary.

“But while these figures are encouraging as a reflection of heightened awareness and identification of child abuse, they also highlight the staggering scale of the pressures that have now been building on children’s services for a number of years. With councils now having a child referred to them every 49 seconds on a daily basis, it is vital that they have the resources necessary to provide an effective response.

“The government has been warned repeatedly that ongoing funding cuts, including the £2 billion gap that councils face by 2020, have left them struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need. The £2billion funding gap must be addressed in the final Local Government Finance Settlement to ensure the support that families need from council child protection services is there now and in years to come. Unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention, many more vulnerable children remain at risk.”