Our open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
We are writing to you as a group of voluntary organisations who support children in care and care leavers.
Your Budget will impact the lives of 19.3 million families, 400,000 children in need, 80,000 children in care, and thousands of care leavers in England.
We have two simple asks:
- Don’t make low-income parents and families worse off.
- Make a commitment to sustainable, long-term investment in the children’s social care system.
Currently, there is no buffer in the children’s social care system for families who risk falling through the cracks. Between 2010 and 2020, government funding to councils for children’s services fell by 24% in real terms (NCB, 2021). In the same period, the number of children in care grew by 23% (GOV, 2022).
Lack of central government investment means that councils cannot allocate enough resources to early intervention and preventative help, even though these are often the services which stop children being separated from their families and entering the care system.
A Children Act Funding Formula has been proposed by Children England which would distribute national taxation to all authorities according to the needs of children in their area, factoring in the additional stresses caused by poverty and disadvantage. This would empower local authorities to provide the range of support families need and to which all children are entitled under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
While the government recently committed to launching the Family Help Pathfinder Scheme in twelve areas across two years, this support will not come quickly enough for families who need help right now.
In the last five years, 10,000 children have entered the care system linked to poverty (Bennett, 2022). Similarly, children from the poorest neighbours are 14x more likely to be referred to social care services than those from the richest (Goldacre and Hood, 2022).
From our work with care-experienced young people, we believe that some of the Department for Education’s proposals have the capacity to make a positive difference to the lives of children in care if implemented well. These include care standards for all children across every setting and independent opt-out advocacy.
Yet only £200 million has been allocated by the Treasury to transform the children’s social care system. It is just a tiny fraction (2%) of the annual cost of maintaining the current ‘dysfunctional’ children’s social care system which costs £10 billion a year (LGA, 2022).
Currently, the scale of the government’s ambition to give children ‘family, love, and a safe, stable and reliable place to call home’ is not matched with the level of investment necessary to make it happen.
If you do not act now, an estimated 2000 children could enter care linked to poverty by the time of the next Budget.
This Budget, will you commit to investing in the care of children who are looked after, care leavers, and children on the periphery of care?
- NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service)
- Children England
- National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, Catch 22
- Drive Forward Foundation
- Nationl Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
- Coram Voice
- Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma
- Article 39
- The Fostering Network
- Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
- Seashell Trust
- Harpenden Mencap
- Autism Plus Ltd
- Affinity Trust
- Rossendale Trust
- the halow project
- Pursuing independent Paths
- Royal Mencap Society
- National Star
- Choice Support
- Creative Support
- Child Action North West
- British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
- Children's Rights Alliance England
- Just for Kids Law
- The Disabilities Trust
- Family Action
- Together Trust