Local authorities overspent on children’s services by an estimated £807m in 2017-18
'Almost nine out of 10 local authorities in England overspent on children’s social care in the last financial year, as the rising number of children taken into care put extra pressure on budgets.
Analysis by the Guardian and the Local Government Association (LGA) found that 133 out of 152 councils (88%) responsible for children’s services overspent in 2017-18. Local authorities went over budget on children’s social care by an estimated £807m, by far the highest area of overspending in council budgets.
The number of children being taken into care stands at a 10-year high. Government data published in November found that there were 75,420 looked-after children in England at the end of March, up 4% on the previous year. The number has increased every year since 2008, when the total was about 60,000.
The LGA said the support necessary to keep children safe from immediate risk of harm could be extremely expensive, forcing councils to cut or end vital early intervention services which helped to prevent children from entering care in the first place.
The organisation calculated that local authorities faced a £3bn funding gap by 2025 just to maintain the current levels of service in children’s social care. It costs around £56k a year to look after a child in care.'
Read more: Rise in children taken into care pushes 88% of councils over budget