Children's centre spending cut by further £90m

Councils are set to spend £90m less providing services from children's centres, government figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Education reveal that local authorities in England are planning to spend a total of £673.9m on children's centres and associated early years provision over the current 2016/17 financial year.

This compares with £763.9m in 2015/16 - a drop of 11.8 per cent in a single year.

It means that predicted spend on children's centres has fallen by £724.6m since 2011/12, when £1,398.5m was forecast to be spent.

The figures also show continuing falls in the amount of money spent on services for young people.

During 2016/17 councils are planning to spend a combined £424.5m on services for young people - both targeted and universal provision - compared with £497.2m in 2015/16, a fall of 14.6 per cent.

Spending on family support services also fell by £27.4m from £864m to £836.6m.

However, spending is continuing to rise on child protection services and provision for looked-after children.

Total spending on safeguarding services, which includes social work, is predicted to rise from £1,889.2m in 2015/16 to £1,972.5m in 2016/17 - an increase of £83.3m, or 4.4 per cent.

And spending on looked-after children is predicted to rise from £3,258.5m in 2015/16 to £3,410.2m - a rise of £151.7m, or 4.7 per cent.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said it is "very concerning" to see children's centre funding continuing to fall at such a sharp rate.

"Children's centres provide vital support to children and parents across the country, but without proper investment they simply cannot survive," he said.
"With the government putting so much emphasis on social mobility and improving life chances, it makes no sense to neglect a service that plays such an important role in supporting families - and vulnerable families in particular.
"The government must commit to investing what is needed and ensuring that children's centres are able to continue offering a high quality service to those families most in need."

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