THE fact that the Government has postponed the Comprehensive Spending Review for 12 months because of Brexit offers scant consolation to cash-strapped local authorities trying to provide vital services in the interim.
No pre-election handouts – or other sleights of hand from Ministers over funding – are likely to compensate town halls for the £5bn ‘black hole’ in their finances as the cost of social care for both adults, and children, escalates rapidly.
And this is reflected by the urgency of the Local Government Association’s new warning today that councils need an extra £1.4bn so they can just meet their obligations when it comes to the welfare of vulnerable children.
This is thankless – and time-consuming – work which, because of the need for confidentiality, often only hits the headlines when a child comes to harm and a Serious Case Review highlights shortcomings.
Yet, as the LGA points out in its submission to the Government, the key is early intervention to lessen any risk of a vulnerable young people suffering the consequences of neglect. It believes support for families before they reach crisis point will improve the lives of children and families as a result.
However, while Department for Education officials are sincere when they sat that they want “every child to have the best start in life”, it appears they are in denial about the scale of the funding crisis – and how the delay to the spending review, because of the continuing Brexit deadlock, will make it harder to address those key public services, like care, where funding has patently not kept pace with demand. This must change.