Protecting children from abuse and neglect is one of the most important responsibilities we have – as a society and as citizens in a democracy. But central government is about to shirk its responsibility and cut off funding for child protection.

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Whilst it’s our councils which make sure we have the right local services and professionals to keep children safe from harm, we trust central government to ensure those vital services are properly funded, wherever children need them, by distributing our taxes fairly.

This arrangement is about to be broken.  The government is withdrawing the ‘formula grant’ that councils rely on for almost all child protection and care services. Under current plans, by 2020, central government will not contribute any money at all to the services protecting our most vulnerable children. Councils – and children – will be set adrift.

Graphs: children on child protection plans and government funding reductions

Councils are already under immense pressure from funding cuts of up to 40% since 2010, and while many areas have lost libraries, community centres and youth services, councils have valiantly protected services for children in need, using the formula grant to support the increasing numbers of children who need help.

Many councils are already unable to fulfil their legal duties to children in their area. With need rising and budgets falling, the government's maths for children’s services simply doesn’t add up.
 

How are councils expected to cope after 2020?
Child protection would rely only on income from local business rates and council tax.

Infographic: funding for children

Funding for essential children’s services would be left to the rise and fall of local economies.
 

But there is still time to reverse these plans.

Children at Heart logoThe government elected in June 2017 must distribute our taxes so that all children are supported and protected – wherever they live in the country. We need to raise awareness of the situation to make sure no one, including the government, takes child protection for granted. Download this briefing as a PDF to keep.

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Read more about children's social care funding and why it's in crisis:

The Local Government Association has recently warned that "Services caring for and protecting vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point." The Guardian covered the issue, including comment from Alison Michalska, President of the Association of Directors of Children's Services. 

Children in poverty are also more likely to experience abuse or neglect.The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has reported on the link between deprivation and levels of child abuse and neglect and the Child Welfare Inequalities Project has more recently reported on this complex relationship

The report of the National Audit Office mentioned above describes 'systemic failure' in children's services and failure by the Department for Education to understand and lead children's social care services. Children England's commentary Apocalypse NAO summarises the many critical issues involved.

In response to the crisis in funding for adult social care, the government offered a 2% increase in council tax. We responded to explain that this isn't enough.

Read our FAQs about the crisis in children's social care funding.