The poorest, most vulnerable children in Britain’s most deprived areas are bearing the brunt of government spending cuts according to latest figures.
A study for the Department of Education shows that since the Tory-led coalition was elected in 2010, and followed by a Conservative majority administration, overall spending on children’s services has fallen by 16 per cent. But in the poorest areas the figure is 27 per cent compared to 4 per cent in the wealthiest areas.
The figures relate to children in families facing financial, housing or other crises and are designed to help stave off problems which damage children’s health, education or other development.
Spending to help such families before a problem becomes critical has fallen by 47 per cent overall, but by 54 per cent in the poorest boroughs compared to 33 per cent in the wealthiest.
The figures laying bare the scale of the problem have been compiled from local council returns by the BBC for the Government.
Professor Paul Bywaters of Huddersfield University, who led the research, said the scale of the spending crisis faced by councils meant they are being forced into short-term cuts which cost more in the long-term. “It’s not only that children are suffering now but we are storing up costs for the future and creating a vicious spiral.
“The more we cut prevention and support family services the more likely it is that more children will come into care but also be be at risk of abuse and neglect.”
A spokesman for the Department of Education said the Government had committed £20 million to provide “additional support to local authorities where the risk of service failure is highest”.
The spokesman said a further £200 billion has been allocated to councils for local services, including children’s services, up to 2019-2020.