Posted: 18 March 2015

Budget 2015: What this means for the most vulnerable children

On CSE Awareness day, it was startling to see no further funding allocated for child sexual exploitation in the Chancellor’s final budget of this Parliament.

With the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse now well on its way and child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham and Oxford unveiling thousands of cases of exploitation we would have expected urgent action from the Government in today’s budget.

Policing and social care budgets are at breaking point. Victims from across the country are reporting that police and local authorities are giving an inadequate response to reports of abuse and exploitation. Significant investment is needed in order to ensure these services have the resources they need to keep children and young people safe.

In particular, we were calling for funding to be allocated to fast track the creation of a national register of missing children to help protect children who go missing and are at high risk of exploitation.

Mental health funding

The Government’s announcement of £250 million a year of extra spending on mental health for children and young people is a welcome – but long overdue – move.

Our analysis shows that for years now children’s mental health services have seen significant real terms cuts.

For this new funding to be effective, it is absolutely crucial that this money is protected and includes support specifically for 16- and 17-year-olds – too often they are forgotten and fall through the gaps.

Tax allowances are too little too late

Regardless of how much the Government talks about growth, significant cuts to welfare over the last five years mean that huge numbers of families — both working and non-working — continue to miss out.

The Chancellor talks about us all being ‘in it together’, but the reality is strikingly different for hundreds of thousands of struggling families. From this April we will be in the final year of a 3 year 1% cap on uprating of key benefits and tax credits. In 2015 a low income family with two children will lose nearly £650 as a result of the uprating cap alone.

The current plans to spend £2.5 billion over the next two years on increasing tax allowances is simply not the best way to help low-income working families. While raising the personal allowance may appear to help, hundreds of thousands of working families will be hit by cuts to their benefits, cancelling any advantage that increased tax allowances would bring. It’s vital that benefits at least keep pace with the cost of living, in order to protect the most vulnerable.

By Sam Royston - Policy team

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