Labour calls for £2bn children’s services boost amid soaring care numbers
Labour has called on Philip Hammond to spend an extra £2bn on children’s services by 2020, as the party unveiled new analysis showing the number in care was at its highest in decades.
John McDonnell said the Chancellor must use next week’s spring statement to tackle the “dangerous funding crisis” in the sector at a time when more children are being taken into care "that at any point since the 1980s”.
The party cited a National Children’s Bureau (NCB) report which expects a further £388m real terms cut to councils' children’s services budget by the end of the decade.
The Shadow Chancellor will today launch a report showing a real terms fally of 40% in local authority spending on early intervention, while three in four English councils went over budget on children’s services last year, by a combined £605m.
Mr McDonnell said the funding gap amounted to a “national scandal”.
“It is simply unacceptable that while there are more children being taken into care today that at any point since the 1980s, children’s services face a £2 billion deficit by 2020,” he said.
“And according to the National Children’s Bureau, more than one in three councillors are warning that cuts have left them with insufficient resources to support these children.
“The Chancellor must use the opportunity of next week’s Spring Statement to end this crisis made in Downing Street that is hitting our local communities. Failure to act would be morally reprehensible.”
Shadow Communities Secretary, Andrew Gwynne, said councils were increasingly struggling to deal with “unprecedented funding cuts” and that action was needed to avert “a catastrophe”.
He added: “Unless the Chancellor finally listens to the demands of councillors, parents and politicians of all parties, we will see more and more vulnerable children go without the care that they need and councils will be pushed even closer to the financial brink.