Children’s social care costs will rise by £600m a year

The Local Government Association has warned that increasing demand to help safeguard children will see future cost pressures in children’s social care increase by an estimated £600 million each year until 2024/25.

Council leaders are calling on government to use the imminent Spending Review to fund these future cost pressures and work with councils to prioritise a child-centred recovery plan as part of its shared ambition with councils to level-up communities and reduce inequalities across the country.

The LGA says projected costs in children’s social care in England will rise from £10.9 billion in 2021/22 to £11.4 billion in 2022/23; £12.1 billion in 2023/24; and £12.6 billion in 2024/25 – an average of £600 million each year and a 16 per cent rise over the three-year period.

Rising cost pressures and demand for services mean that despite budgets for children’s social care rising by more than £1.1 billion between 2017/18 and 2019/20, more than eight in 10 councils were still forced to overspend to ensure children were protected.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Supporting and protecting vulnerable children is one of the most important roles played by councils who want to ensure all children are safe, loved and thrive. Despite increasing their budgets for children’s services by diverting funds from other areas, councils are still overspending due to soaring demand for support which is likely to increase further as the long-term impacts of the pandemic become clearer.

“The end of the Universal Credit uplift and other Covid-related support could combine with rising fuel and food costs to increase pressures on many low-income families. This risks increasing demand on children’s social services which is already unsustainable.

“Councils want to work with government to prioritise a child-centred recovery plan which ensures no child is left behind as we recover from the pandemic. This must include fully funding children’s services so councils can protect children at risk of harm by providing the early intervention and prevention support that can stop children and families reaching crisis point in the first place.”

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