Local authorities overspend on their budgets for children’s social care by £800m a year, research has revealed.
An analysis by the Labour Party showed that councils’ spending on children’s social care services has increased eight-fold since 2012/13, hitting a record high this year.
Last week, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that local authorities will receive a £650m funding grant for social care next year, as part of the 2018 budget.
On top of this funding boost, £84m will be made available for up to 20 councils over the next five years to ‘help more children stay at home safely with their families’.
Following an analysis of data published by Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) last month, the Labour Party found that local authority spending in this area exceeds the allotted budget by over by £800m a year.
This compares to a total overspending by local authorities of £1bn, according to the OBR.
Despite the additional funding, the Labour Party argued that councils will not be able to reverse current overspend.
Labour Party shadow secretary of state for education Angela Rayner MP said: ‘The Prime Minister promised that austerity was over, but it is clear that the most vulnerable children in society will continue to suffer for years to come.
‘The huge increase in overspending on these vital services is a direct result of rising demand for services and ideological Conservative cuts from Whitehall, detached from the real impact of their decisions.’
Cuts to local funding
In a report published in March, government watchdog the National Audit Office said that central funding for local authorities has almost halved – dropping by 49% – since 2010, leaving some councils with difficult decisions when it comes to protecting their spending on children’s social care services.
The Labour Party said ‘services have been under increasing pressure’, with a record number of children in need and subject to a child protection plan’.
Child protection plans are designed by councils to keep children safe and protect them from harm.
As of March there were 53,790 children under such a plan, compared with 51,080 the previous year, according to the Department of Education – an increase of 5%.