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Safeguarding Pressures Phase 6

In a country that works for all children every child should be able to say, ‘I am safe’ and ‘I am happy’. Whilst this is true for the majority, a growing number of children need help to secure their wellbeing and keep them safe from harm.

Local authorities are committed to improving children’s life chances but children’s services are under increasing pressure which is impacting on this goal. Figures from the National Audit Office show our budgets have been reduced by 50% since 2010, at the same time demand is rising and children’s needs are becoming more complex. In addition, children’s services face a £2 billion funding gap by 2020, just to stand still. Understandably, child protection work has been prioritised, but cuts to vital preventative services that prevent future demand have been necessary. The cuts we are having to make are counterintuitive as well as not being the right thing to do for children but without proper funding we are left with no choice.

In the sixth phase of Safeguarding Pressures research we are seeing further increases in safeguarding activity. Domestic abuse, poor parental mental health and substance misuse are becoming more common amongst the children and families we work with and it is clear that without addressing unmet parental need we cannot make sustained improvements in the lives of children. In phase 6, we can compare data over a ten-year period; and for the first time, predictive modelling is used to estimate future demand, making the latest iteration the most comprehensive and robust yet. This year, we received survey responses from 140 of the 152 local authorities in England, our highest ever response rate, providing information covering 11.3 million (95%) children and young people. I’d like to thank everyone involved in this research, to the contributing authorities for continuing to strengthen this valued evidence base by providing such rich accounts of your local experiences and to the research team for all your hard work.

A country that works for all children must invest in children and families but with Brexit taking up so much parliamentary time and focus there is a real risk that many of the issues raised in this report will remain unaddressed. This cannot happen in the interest of children now and in the future.

ADCS believes every child deserves a happy, safe childhood, we hope others do too.