Children England reacts to Spending Review 2021

The Chancellor has today announced several elements of funding that recognise the pressures on families and services for children. An increase in the national minimum wage and a reduction in the taper rate of Universal Credit acknowledge the mismatch between wages and the cost of living, and the high rates of children in poverty in working households. Funding for 75 family hubs is a start to restoring the accessible early help every family needs. And £259 million for capacity in children's residential care recognises the crisis of sufficiency in placements. 
But these limited and piecemeal pots of funding also point to the government's lack of strategy for the wellbeing of every child in the country, and to an incoherent economic plan. They continue an approach of giving to some families while ignoring others, and offering insufficient investment that simply fails to bring about the structural change children across the country need.
An increase in £4.6bn grant-funding for local authorities seems destined to fill gaps in our roads and our adult social care while only reaching 300,000 families through the Supporting Families programme. Councils are expected to turn for extra funding to the very families who need their help, via increases in council tax. We should not have to choose between the generations when building back from the impacts of the pandemic, and pit local authorities against each other in a survival of the fittest.

As reported in Children England Email News (sign up at the foot of this page), today's Spending Review included:
For families and children
  • An increase in the national living wage next year to £9.50 per hour for those over 23 (£9.18 for 21 - 22 year olds and £6.83 for 18 - 20 year olds)
  • Cutting the taper rate of Universal Credit from 63% to 55% by no later than December 1st
  • The trailed investment in early help for families, including £200m for the Supporting Families programme; £150m for early years workforce training; and £18m for a network of family hubs
  • £200 million a year for the continuation of the holiday activities and food programme
  • £259 million over the next three years to maintain capacity and expand provision in secure and open residential children’s homes and £104 million by 2024-25 to take forwards reforms to unregulated provision in children’s social care
  • Increased funding for education recovery, bringing the total to £4.9bn
  • Funding for 30,000 new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • An increase in the hourly rate for early years providers
For local government
  • £4.8 billion (£1.6 billion per year) of new grant funding in each of the next three years for social care and other services (of which £200m is for the above-mentioned Supporting Families programme)
  • Freezing the business rates multiplier in 2022 - 2023
  • The final report of the business rates review has been published (including protection of rate relief for charities)
  • the referendum threshold for increases in council tax is expected to remain at 2% per year