Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, responds to the announcement of a new government programme to protect children at risk of exploitation.
“Effective multi-agency work is essential to tackle and prevent violent crime by young people and safeguard those exploited by criminal gangs for purposes of county lines drug dealing, online grooming and modern slavery.
“This programme will help councils who are working hard with their partners to identify and protect children and young people at risk of abuse amid ongoing funding cuts and soaring demand for urgent child protection work.
“Children’s services are now starting more than twice as many child protection investigations every day than they were 10 years ago. This demonstrates the increasing pressure that is forcing councils to divert funding away from preventative work into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm.
“To help stop young people being criminally exploited or groomed, and with children’s services facing a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025, it is vital that government reverses years of funding cuts to local youth services, youth offending teams and councils’ public health budgets, which needs to be addressed in the Spending Review.”
Notes to editors
- Councils were forced to cut spending on local youth services by 52 per cent, from £652 million in 2010/11 to £352 million in 2017/18, as a result of government funding cuts
- Government funding for Youth Offending Teams has more than halved, from £145 million in 2010/11 to £72 million in 2017/18
- Councils’ public health grants from central government have been reduced by £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20
- Councils are starting 500 child protection investigations a day, up from 200 a day a decade ago.
#CouncilsCan: Spending Review 2019
With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Securing the financial sustainability of local services must be the top priority for the Spending Review.