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Children’s services: spending and delivery

Research report by Aldaba and the Early Intervention Foundation

1. The Department for Education (‘the department’), in collaboration with the Department for Communities and Local Government, commissioned Aldaba and the Early Intervention Foundation (‘we’) to undertake research on children’s services.

2. The aim of this research was to understand how local councils responded to pressures on children’s services over the last Parliament, and their forecasts for changes in demand for, and spend on, children’s services in the future and planned adaptations.

3. The specific objectives were to identify:
• the changes in demand and spending faced by local councils; and
• the adaptations that local councils have underway, or have planned, to deal with this, including service delivery, commissioning, and joint working.

4. Our analysis used a combination of quantitative research, including statistical analysis of information on spending by local councils, and the number of children in need and looked after children; and qualitative interviews with over 50 officials across 17 local councils (‘participating councils’) in England between September and October 2015.

5. All types of children’s services are part of the scope of this report. However, the focus of the quantitative analysis is on spending on services for children in need and looked after children specifically, for whom we have detailed information on the number of service users, which is required to produce estimates of spend per head. Children in need and looked after children represent around two thirds of the total spending on children’s services. To clarify, the focus of the quantitative analysis is on spending, as opposed to funding sources, such as the early intervention, or dedicated schools grants.