New figures show that a total of 133 out of 152 councils (88 per cent) were forced to spend more money than they had planned to on children’s social care in the last year (2017/18). This amounted to an overspend of £806 million.
The LGA says the number of councils spending more than they budgeted for indicates the immense pressure they are under to support vulnerable children and young people, and emphasises that this is now an issue affecting all areas of the country.
It estimates that children’s services already face a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain the current levels of service, and is calling on the Government to announce desperately needed new money into the system.
This comes as latest figures show that the number of looked after children continues to increase to the highest level since the 1980s, with a total of 75,420 children in the care of councils in England.
The LGA says that the support necessary to keep children safe from immediate risk of harm can be extremely expensive, forcing councils to cut or end vital early intervention services which can help prevent children from entering care in the first place.
At the same time, the number of children supported through a child protection plan to keep them safe from harm increased by more than 2,700 over the past year – the biggest annual increase in four years, and an 84 per cent increase in the number of children on plans over the past decade.