Whitehall cuts ‘threaten children's services'

By Neil Puffett

| 06 December 2012

Frontline services for children will suffer as a result of cuts to central government spending announced in the autumn statement, a think-tank has warned.

The Department for Education will have to save £460m by 2014/15. Image: Janaki Mahadevan

Delivering the statement to parliament, Chancellor George Osborne said government departments would face reductions of one per cent in 2013/14 and two per cent in 2014/15.

This equates to £155m savings from the Department for Education budget in 2013/14 and a £305m in 2014/15.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) budget will be protected next year, but will be subject to a two per cent cut, equivalent to £445m, in 2014/15.

Rick Muir, associate director for public service reform at IPPR, told CYP Now that children and young people's services are likely to be hardest hit by the reduction to the DfE's budget, since ministers have committed to protecting spending on schools.

He added that the DCLG cuts could also spell disaster for wider children's services provision. “The further cuts to local government could have a crippling effect,” he said. “Given the very significant cuts they have already had to introduce, councils will find it difficult to make these further savings without cutting frontline services.

“Michael Gove has already announced a big reduction of around 25 per cent in the number of civil servants employed by the DfE. There is also the likelihood that sixth form funding will be cut further, further damaging the crucial link between school, further study and the labour market.”

The Local Government Association said that councils have so far worked hard to protect spending on areas including children’s social care.

“But even these areas are now facing reductions,” Merrick Cockell, Local Government Association chairman, said. “That impact will only increase in line with any further cuts.”

Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), said the freeze on spending cuts within the DCLG next year is welcome.

“Local government and, in particular, children’s services have been particularly hard hit with cuts in the past two years,” she said. “ADCS welcomes any respite from further cuts this year and we await more detail in the form of the local government settlement. Only then will it become clear as to what the autumn statement truly means for local authorities.”

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