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Red alert for services protecting the vulnerable

Action for Children

2 min read Partner content

The launch of Action for Children's new Red Book shines a light on vulnerable families across the UK and warns that frontline services are struggling to pick up the pieces, exacerbated by the spending cuts.

Examining the situation one year on from the coalition's comprehensive spending review (CSR), Action for Childrenhas launched its investigation into the social and financial costs of the spending decisions made.

Working with over 200 of its frontline managers, those social care professionals who work daily with over 80,000 vulnerable and neglected children and young people cross the UK, the charity today launches its finding in its first annual Red Book.

The report warns that, by failing to invest in children's services and early-intervention measures, the country is facing a financial time bomb and failing to protect not only children but society as a whole.

Assessing the impact of cuts on services, the reportconcludes that there has been a 42 per cent increase in the number of children, young people and families needing support.

A variety of factors can be cited as the cause of the increased demand, claims Action for Children, with family breakdown, parental mental/physical health issues and a reduction in other community services topping the list.

The report has some stark warnings for readers. If existing infrastructure is stripped back too far at a local level then it will become irreversible, proving too costly to re-establish it in the future.

The Red Bookwarns of the false economy of stripping back services to prevent family breakdown. These services prevent children from needlessly going into care or from entering the justice system, it claims.

Action for Childrenconcludes that more should be done in the field of early intervention, imposing a duty on local authorities and statutory partners to provide necessary services and planned, implemented and funded over a long-term period.

Lesley Stopforth, Action for Children service manager, North West, said:

"It is becoming harder and harder for us to get help to those children and families who so desperately need it in my area. The number of children who need help is rising day by day, but the support that is available to them is slowly disappearing and many are left with unmet needs.

"We are doing all we can on a reduced budget and with fewer staff, but we worry about all those families we know about, but can't take on right now. The country is in a difficult financial position, but our children shouldn't be the ones paying the price."

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