Public spending on children’s social care
This report looks at recent cuts in government spending in the context of spending patterns over the last decade.
It considers variations in spending between councils in England and Wales, looks at where the cuts are likely to fall and what their implications might be and includes a detailed analysis of spending data from English and Welsh councils.
The key finding shows that cutting preventative services may prove costly if it is not done carefully. If cuts to preventative services result in an increase in the numbers of children in need, child protection costs could spiral.
This report was produced by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) for the NSPCC.
Scale of the cuts
Spending over the decade
- Children's social care spending in England is expected to be reduced by an average of 24% in 2011-12 compared with 2010-11.
- The cuts are most significant in English urban areas and the local authorities that have a high proportion of looked after children.
- In contrast to England, a number of Welsh councils have actually increased their children's social care budgets for 2011-12 and this spending is only projected to fall by 1.96% in Wales as a whole.
- Services focused on prevention, such as Sure Start, are particularly vulnerable to cuts.
Future spending cuts
- Spending on children's social care rose steadily throughout the last decade, peaking in 2009-10.
- A large part of this increase can be attributed to the introduction of Sure Start funding in England.
- Projected spending on children's social care in England for 2010-11 totalled £8.14bn (£620 per young person), but it was set to fall sharply to £6.28bn in 2011-12 (£478 per young person).
Implications of cuts
- Cuts in future years are unlikely to be as deep as they have been in 2011-12.
- Deep cuts to discretionary early intervention services may lead to a further increase in the numbers of children in need and looked after children.
- While cuts in spending are currently commonplace in all public services, the sheer pace of change in spending on children's social care in some local authorities is of concern.
- Cutting preventative services may prove costly if it is not done very carefully. If cuts to preventative services results in an increase in the numbers of children in need, child protection costs could spiral.
- Local authorities cannot continue as they are in the face of rising demand for child protection services and reduced resources.
Please cite as: Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) (2011) Smart cuts? Public spending on children’s social care. London: NSPCC.