“Sector responds to Chancellor's public spending announcements”

By Joanne Parkes

| 04 September 2019

Sector representatives from across services for children and young people have given a mixed reaction to the Chancellor's funding announcements.

Promises of billions of extra pounds for services including education and social care services in Sajid Javid's one-year Spending Review have been welcomed by councils.

However, children's services representatives, charities and early years organisations condemned Javid for not going far enough to reverse the impact of austerity.

The extra funding increases day-to-day public spending by 4.1 per cent for 2010/21, to £13.8bn, but social care alone is said to be facing a funding gap of £6.7bn by 2025.

The Chancellor's funding package includes £1.5bn for social care, a £66m extension of the early years childcare offer, £700m for special educational needs and £30m for tackling online child sexual exploitation.

In addition, it provides £7m to expand Jobcentre adviser support in schools for SEND and extending eligibility for Access to Work to internships for disabled people.

Local Government Association said it was "delighted" with the announcement of more than £3.5bn for "vital local services", adding that the review has provided necessary certainty and stability for councils next year.

LGA chairman James Jamieson, said: "This is the biggest year-on-year real-terms increase in spending power for local government in a decade and will allow councils to meet the rising cost and demand pressures they face in 2020/21.

"The LGA has worked hard to demonstrate to the government the financial pressures facing councils next year.

"It shows that the LGA is successfully making the case that investing in local government is good for the nation's prosperity, economic growth and the overall health and wellbeing of the nation. With the freedom and funding to make local decisions, there is clear evidence that outcomes for the nation improve and the country gets better value for money."

The charity Action for Children said that while the £1bn for social care was welcome, it was not clear how the money would be split between adults and children, and called for a "long-term and sustainable" solution, such as a national childhood strategy.

The charity's director of policy and campaigns Imran Hussain said that with a £3.1bn funding gap for children's social care by 2025 and a £3.6bn gap for the same period for adult social care, sharing £1bn across the two would not "go anywhere near solving the problem".

Hussain added that there is "no certainty this spending will be carried through in future years".

"Far from a decade of renewal as the Chancellor promised, we're heading for a decade of crisis for children," he continued.

"By failing to fix the funding gap in children's services today, the Chancellor has left our most vulnerable children without the right support - facing traumas like abuse and neglect while struggling to get the early help they need."

Rachel Dickinson, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS), said the news offered "some short-term respite for children's services but few reassurances about the future".  

Dickinson added: "This is at least some recognition of the concerns ADCS, and others, have been consistently raising about the growing pressures faced by children and families as well as the public services that support them in times of difficulty.

"Local government funding has fallen by half over the last nine years, but need has not.  

"A failure to invest in children's futures is only storing up fiscal and human costs for the future.  

"What's missing from today's announcements, and what must be a feature in the next full spending review, is meaningful and sustainable investment in helping families early, when issues first arise thus averting the need for the state to become deeply involved in family life.  

"Youth workers, children's centres and family support workers are not simply nice to have, they are part of a valuable safety net that prevents children from being harmed.

"Children's voices are not easily heard in Westminster but we will continue to champion their rights and to call for the government to invest fully in their futures, not just offer them the bare minimum levels of resourcing and support."

Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield, agreed the money was not enough to "tackle the growing crisis in children's services or to turn around the lives of thousands of vulnerable children".

Longfield added: "While today's Spending Review makes some progress on improving youth services and school funding, it falls short of the significant investment needed to make our country the best place for a child to grow up."

UK Youth was happy with the news, with the organisation's CEO Anna Smee tweeting:

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance said that the extra funding to make up the shortfall for the 30 hours offer would "not make even the smallest inroad into bridging the £662m funding gap in the sector". 

He added: "On today's news, expect more childcare price hikes and more closures."