Local government leaders call for election pledges on children's services funding

Joe Lepper
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Council leaders have called on political parties to include a funding boost for children's services in their general election pledges.

The LGA has estimated that local authority children's services face a £2bn funding gap for the period up to 2020. Picture: Morguefile
The LGA has estimated that local authority children's services face a £2bn funding gap for the period up to 2020. Picture: Morguefile

The Local Government Association (LGA) said plugging an estimated £2bn funding gap in children's services for the period up to 2020 should be among the priority areas for parties contesting the snap election.

It said councils should be "given the resources they need to keep children and young people safe in the future".

The request features in a 10-point plan of action to boost the role of councils in areas including education, employment, housing and economic growth.

The plan, which has been sent to the leaders of all main political parties ahead of June's general election, also calls for councils to be given a greater role in planning local school places.

It calls on political parties to commit to giving councils "a role in determining where new schools are created and a say on the type of school introduced to their area".

"Councils want to ensure every child has a school place available to them," the plan states.

It also suggests local authorities should be given a greater role in helping schools improve.

"With 91 per cent of maintained schools rated as either outstanding or good by Ofsted, councils must be seen as education improvement partners," the plan adds.

The call for greater involvement in planning new schools comes a month after the public accounts select committee issued a critical report about the government's free school programme, which it says is not properly taking into account local need.

The committee called on the Department for Education to work more closely with councils to better understand local demand for places.

The LGA's plan also raises concerns over the future of regeneration projects when £5.3bn of European Union funding runs out in 2020.

The body, which represents 370 councils, wants to see politicians commit to deliver a "fully funded and locally driven successor scheme" for this funding stream.

"Councils have a key role to play in helping to generate economic growth, build homes, strengthen communities, and protect vulnerable people in all parts of the country. It is vital for the next government to recognise the need to empower councils to deliver for their residents and the country," LGA chairman Lord Porter said.
"The need for financial sustainability for local government is urgent. Councils need fairer funding to continue to provide the full range of services that support their local communities, alongside a fairer funding system for all schools."

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