The “unprecedented” coalition of charities, unions and campaigns groups have today published an open letter to Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond, calling for children to placed at the heart of spending plans. The letter comes ahead of Monday’s budget, and has been backed by the Local Government Association, which said children’s services were “fast approaching a tipping point”, with £3bn needed to fill a funding black hole by 2025.
The call for a new focus on children’s services and school funding came from organisations including the National Children’s Bureau, the National Education Union and the Child Poverty Action Group.
Among the issues highlighted in the letter were stark statistics saying the number of children being taken into care is now at its highest, at 90 per day; less than a third of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health problem will get access to NHS-funded treatment this year; and almost three-quarters of school leaders expecting they will be unable to balance their budgets in the next financial year.
The letter said: “There is compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point. We believe this is because children and young people are being ignored in the Government’s spending plans.”
Among the regional organisations backing the letter are Interchange Sheffield, which provides counselling and mental health support for young people; Ryedale Special Families, which supports families with children with disabilities; and York-based Family Fund, which provides grants and equipment to families with disabled children.
Head of communications at Family Fund, Jim Paterson said last year it received 84,923 applications for support across the UK, an increase of over 12,500 compared to the last four years - but its Government funding stayed the same. He added: “We want to se priority given to children.”
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Things we once took for granted, like family support, children’s centres and respite care for families with disabled children, are now the privilege of the few. In some areas of the country, over half the children are growing up in poverty.”
TOWN Hall chiefs have backed the demand for extra support.
Coun Anntoinette Bramble, who chairs the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “This is a compelling demonstration of the grave concerns shared across the sector as funding cuts increasingly leave services struggling to provide the care and support that thousands of children and families rely on.
“Councils have long called for the Government to recognise the urgency of the funding crisis facing children’s services, which are fast approaching a tipping point and face a funding gap of £3bn by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.”