Constricted funding and ever increasing demand have left children’s services in England at breaking point, a report published today by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found.

Ahead of the 2019 Spending Review, the report calls for a funding settlement that reflects the challenges local authorities face in delivering children’s social care, and recommends a minimum increase to core grant funding of £3.1 billion up until 2025.

The report calls for the following:

  • The Spending Review 2018 must reflect the challenges facing local authorities and core funding should increase by a minimum of £3.1 billion
  • Increased funding must go hand-in-hand with systemic change if local authority children’s services are to be sustainable in the long-term
  • More work needs to be undertaken to understand and address the factors driving ever increasing demand for children’s services.
  • Barriers to creating greater residential care placement capacity should be investigated and addressed
  • The Government must better understand the pressures facing social workers and the wider care workforce to improve recruitment and retention

Committee Chair, Clive Betts MP, commented:

“Supporting vulnerable children is one of the most important duties that local authorities provide. It is vital that we have the right support available in every part of the country, to ensure that vulnerable children get the support they need. Over the last decade we have seen a steady increase in the number of children needing support, whilst at the same time funding has failed to keep up.

“It is clear that this approach cannot be sustained, and the Government must make serious financial and systemic changes to support local authorities in helping vulnerable children. They must understand why demand is increasing and whether it can be reduced. They must ensure that the funding formula actually allows local authorities to meet the obligations for supporting children that the Government places on them.

“We have reached a crisis point and action is needed now.”

Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said:

“It is great that the influential Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has backed the LGA’s call for new funding to be invested in children’s services in the forthcoming Spending Review, and recognises our estimation of the £3.1 billion funding gap councils face by 2025.

“These are absolutely vital council services in desperate need of significant and sustained long-term investment, which keep children and young people safe from harm and the worst abuses of society.

“However, as the LGA and the sector have long warned, children’s services are at a tipping point as a result of increasingly high levels of demand for support and cuts in central government funding.

“The fact that nine in 10 councils overspent their budgets on children’s social care in 2017/18 indicates the huge financial pressures councils all over the country are under to support vulnerable children and young people.

“Councils have also played a pivotal role in making the Troubled Families Programme a success for some of the most vulnerable families, and it is good that the Committee supports the need to continue this vital service through a successor programme.”

Dr Eleanor Roy, CIPFA Policy Manager Health and Social Care, said:

“Today’s report raises concerns about fulfilling the increasing demand for children’s services, as it shows local authorities drawing back on discretionary, often preventative, services that could avoid young people and families reaching crisis point in the first place.

“Local government is under consistent pressure to deliver more for less. We have seen a substantial reduction in the resources available for family support and increasing pressure on front line staff, culminating in a 16% turnover of children’s social workers in 2018.

“The funding packets provided by government simply aren’t enough to repair the breaking point children’s services are currently facing. Vital additional funding is required urgently to reduce pressures on the front line staff working to prevent dire situations for young people most in need of support.”

A Government spokesperson said:

“Every child deserves to grow up in a stable, loving family where they feel supported.  We must help parents who face difficulties, to strengthen their family relationships so they can properly support their children.

“That is why we’re putting an extra £410 million into social care this year, including children’s – alongside £84 million over the next five years to keep more children at home with their families safely, helping reduce the demand on services.

“The number of children’s services rated outstanding is growing, and the number rated inadequate has dropped by a third since 2017 – from 30 down to 20. To help continue this trend we are raising the bar in our social work profession, by focusing on improved training and recruitment.

"Councils have access to increased resources with core spending power increasing from £45.1 billion in 2018-19 to £46.4 billion in 2019-20. Ahead of the Spending Review we are working closely with the sector to understand the often complex reasons behind increasing demand."

The key conclusions and recommendations include:

Increased funding

While local authorities are responding to financial and service pressures by prioritising child protection work and reducing spending on non-statutory children’s services, the majority are still overspending their annual budgets.

  • The 2019 Spending Review settlement must reflect the increased demand and pressures on local authorities’ children’s services. At a minimum, non-ringfenced core grant funding up until 2025 should increase by £3.1 billion in total.
  • The Government must announce a successor programme to the Troubled Families Programme in advance of the 2019 Spending Review to provide local authorities with certainty over their long-term funding streams beyond 2020.
  • A day rate payment, equal to that of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and payable by the Home Office, should be introduced to enable local authorities to better support children within no recourse to public funds families.
  • The day rate payment for unaccompanied asylum seeking children should be increased.

Creating systemic change

Increased funding alone will not lead to a sustainable children’s services. It must go alongside systemic and strategic changes.

  • The Government should review the key factors driving demand children’s social services, which have been increasing each year for well over a decade. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of looked after children increased from 59,400 to 75,420. It should consider whether there is scope to reduce demand

Supporting social workers and care staff

High turnover and low retention of the children’s social care workforce point to a system that isn’t working well. Children pay the price as professional relationships break down. It has a cost for local authorities who resort to filling vacancies with agency.

  • The Government should increase core funding in order to enable local authorities to ease the pressure facing social workers. It should better understand why social workers are leaving their roles and consider options (e.g. limiting caseloads) for lessening the load on this vital workforce as a matter of urgency.  

Reducing the costs of using independent providers

The independent sector constitutes a significant part of the children’s residential care market, and this comes at a financial cost to local authorities. There needs to be better commissioning and procurement, to improve the market for residential care and provide better value for money.

  • The Government should consider the barriers to creating more residential care placements to increase supply.
  • There may also be a role for greater regulation of the children’s care market to ensure that costs do not rise disproportionally and that there is appropriate competition. The Competition and Markets Authority should investigate this market. 
  • A review of the commissioning and procurement system should be conducted by December 2019. The Government and local authorities should introduce greater oversight of how different care placements affect outcomes for children and their value for money.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

SERC has published a new article: Foundation Degree Opens Up Options for Nicole 14 hours 51 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 15 hours 10 minutes ago

Britain’s construction training body pledges pre-Covid rates: The training body for British construction is proposi…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page