Vulnerable children are “paying the price” for years of brutal austerity measures, say Labour, as new figures reveal a growing funding crisis in children’s services.

Analysis by Labour found that vital children’s services in England are facing are £2bn funding shortfall by 2020.

England has seen the biggest rise in the number of children in care for seven years. Last year, the number of children taken into care by local authorities increased by a shocking 10%.

Between 2010 and 2016, the number of children assessed by social workers as being in need rose by 5% and the number of children subject to a child protection plan increased by 29%.

Since 2010 the amount spent by local authorities on early intervention has decreased by a shocking 40%. However, three-quarters of English councils exceeded their budgets for children’s services last year by £605 million, highlighting the lack of funding from central government.

According to Labour’s report, 41% of councillors responsible for children’s services feel unable to fulfill at least one of their statutory duties as a result of funding pressures.

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: “It is a national scandal that vulnerable children are paying the price for the austerity policies of this Tory government. Today’s report lays out in stark detail how nearly eight years of Tory austerity has created a crisis in children’s services in our country.

“It is simply unacceptable that while there are more children being taken into care today that at any point since the 1980s, children’s services face a £2 billion deficit by 2020.

“And according to the National Children’s Bureau, more than one in three councillors are warning that cuts have left them with insufficient resources to support these children.

“The Chancellor must use the opportunity of next week’s Spring Statement to end this crisis made in Downing Street that is hitting our local communities. Failure to act would be morally reprehensible.”

Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, added: “The past eight years of Tory austerity has hit some of the most vulnerable in our society the hardest.

“Many local councils are doing all they can – but with unprecedented funding cuts since 2010 this is becoming increasingly difficult.

“Unless the Chancellor finally listens to the demands of councillors, parents and politicians of all parties, we will see more and more vulnerable children go without the care that they need and councils will be pushed even closer to the financial brink.

“Next week’s Spring Statement needs to deliver for vulnerable children and their families, providing sustainable funding for our public services before this crisis turns into a catastrophe.”

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