Frequently asked questions about cuts to children's services

Good childhood campaign frequently asked questions

What is the crisis in funding for children’s services?

Since 2010, the Government has significantly reduced the local authority funding available to deliver children’s services. Local councils have to make tough choices at a time when more teenagers have more need. It’s estimated that by 2025 there will be a £3 billion black hole in the local Government budget for children’s services.

We are deeply concerned because we know from our own specialist services and our research that these Government cuts to local services hit the most vulnerable teenagers hardest.

How do government cuts to local authority funding harm teenagers?

Teenagers with serious problems mounting up in their lives desperately need the support provided through local authority spending on local children’s services. These services give them someone to talk to and help them get their lives back on track.

We know that cuts to early help services have been some of the most severe. With less early help available when they need it, teenagers’ lives can and do get much worse. They can end up suffering more harm, they may resort to running away, drugs or self-harm. In the most extreme cases teenagers have seven or more serious problems harming their well-being. Sadly, there are one million teenagers in this damaging situation and it leaves them scared, unsafe and unable to thrive.

How can the shortfall caused by cuts to local Government funding cuts be addressed?

The Government must take urgent action to fill the emerging £3 billion gap in local government budget for children’s services. Local councils urgently need this funding to make sure they can help teenagers long before they hit crisis point. With more local funding for young people, even the most vulnerable teenagers can overcome the serious problems in their lives and have a real chance at a safe and stable childhood.

What is meant by local children's services?

Local children's services are run by the local council in your area. These services include a wide range of essential support that help teenagers in many different aspects of their lives early long before problems get worse.

They undertake investigations when they think a child is at risk of harm, or if they think a child’s development is at risk. They are responsible for children in care and young people leaving care until they are 25. They arrange counselling so teenagers have someone to talk to when they’re scared and overwhelmed by the many difficult problems in their lives. They work intensively with families to work through their problems and help them get their lives back on track. They provide youth services such as youth clubs giving teenagers a safe space. Local councils are required to provide some services by law but because of Government cuts they’re finding it increasingly difficult to even provide these.

Are other local agencies involved in making sure teenagers have local support affected?

There are several other local agencies involved in supporting teenagers in your area - like the police, schools and the NHS. The funding for these services is separate and not directly affected by central Government grants to local authorities for children’s services. The law requires that these local agencies work together to give teenagers the best, most coordinated support.

As local authorities struggle financially, it’s likely that the other local agencies will have to do more - eating into their limited resources. The most effective support is delivered in a coordinated way, making sure the views of the most vulnerable teenagers are considered at all times.

What can you do?

Right now, an alarming one million teenagers have seven or more serious problems in their lives - from violence at home to threat of eviction. A decade of drastic Government cuts to local authorities’ funding for local children’s services means too often they’re forced to struggle alone. We want to protect the most vulnerable teenagers from fear, to protect them from danger.

We want to help them thrive and enjoy childhood. With help when they need it, even the most vulnerable teenagers can have a real chance at a safe and stable childhood.

The Government must make sure that local authorities can help teenagers who need it long before they hit crisis point. We have been asking for more funding for local children’s services, but we need your help. 

Please ask your MP to intervene before it's too late.