To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the correlation between funding for children’s services between 2010-11 and 2017-18 and the number of (a) referrals to children’s services, (b) referrals to children's services within 12 months, (c) children in need, (d) child protection enquiries, (e) child protection plans and (f) looked after children over that period.
Funding for children’s services is made available through the Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) which gives local authorities flexibility to target spending according to local needs and to fulfil their statutory responsibilities, including services for children and families. Since 2010, the responsibilities of local authorities and the makeup of their funding streams have changed significantly, including the move for local authorities to retain locally raised business rates. Therefore, wider spending power measures are not directly comparable over this period.
Over the 5 year period from 2015-16 to 2019-20, councils have access, through the LGFS, to over £200 billion to deliver local services, including children’s services. Core spending power increased from £45.1 billion in 2018-19 to £46.4 billion in 2019-20. In addition to this the Autumn Budget announced a further £410 million in 2019-20 for local authorities to invest in adult and children’s social care services. It also announced £84 million of extra funding, over the next 5 years, to support local authorities to invest in initiatives that improve social work practice and decision making.
Due to discontinuity in methods used for some of the data collected, we only look at trends in these numbers from 2013. The department’s data shows that since 2013, the number of referrals, children in need, child protection enquiries, children on child protection plans and looked after children at 31 March have risen by 10.5%, 7.1%, 50.9%, 24.5% and 10.7% respectively.
The most common factors recorded in children’s social care assessments are domestic abuse and mental health. These have been consistently the top 2 factors for the years during which we have collected this data and have risen in line with trends in demand.