According to the County Councils Network (CCN) demand for children’s services in rural areas has risen much more dramatically than in urban areas, but warn that rural councils are given only half as much funding to deliver the important services.
The last 10 years has seen a doubling in the number of children being referred to social services. The number of young people subject to a child protection plan, for those at serious risk of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, has doubled in the last year alone.
Against this background of steeply increasing demand, the CCN warn that central government is sleepwalking into a funding crisis for vulnerable young people, unless demand and funding pressures facing children’s services are addressed, and treated as equal to adult social services.
The CCN identify the current funding formula for social services as a cause of the problem, as they say it fails to recognise the growing pressures facing the system. However, they are optimistic that a Government review of the way local authorities are funded could ‘go a long way’ to solving financial issues.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, children’s services spokesman for CCN and leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We remain confident that the government’s review of the way councils are funded could finally iron out these discrepancies and give us a funding deal that will allow us to maintain these badly-needed services at the same quality as we are delivering now. We look forward to engaging with the review in due course.”