Children England's response to the Chancellor's autumn budget 2018

Far from ending austerity, this budget is blind to the cumulative impact of cuts, year after year, on public services. It offers patchy, one-off injections of cash that will cover, as the Chancellor himself said, merely ‘little extras’ – drops in the ocean compared to the long-term, strategic and sustainable investment that is needed by local authorities, schools and low-income families.

£410 million shared between adults and children’s social care next year gives little security to councils who will have seen a 60% reduction in central government funding by 2020, and predict a gap of £3.9 billion next year alone. That 20 individual local authorities can apply for a discrete fund of £84 million for children’s services will do nothing to help families struggling in the majority of areas, and suggests the government is still treating children’s social care as a local conundrum to be met with innovation and further efficiencies, when all the evidence shows what is needed is more systematic, nationwide investment.

While the Chancellor offers schools money for ‘that extra bit of kit’, what would really make the difference is investment in school staff and restoration of local budgets for the support currently being cut away from children with special educational needs and disabilities. An apparent increase in the number of areas that will get mental health support teams for young people is welcome, but can only work successfully from schools that are properly resourced to understand their students’ mental health and co-operate with local agencies.

The budget’s raising of the personal tax allowance and augmentation of the Work Allowance for families on Universal Credit are similarly superficial - tweaks that help those in the middle rather than address the structural issues that are driving families – even those in work – to food banks and temporary housing. The Chancellor should have paused the already-punitive Universal Credit and, if he is serious about ending austerity, removed the cap and the two-child limit on the benefits children in low-income families rely on simply for food, clothes and a roof over their heads.