Debate News The Local Government Finance Settlement ignoring vulnerable children is an act of wilful neglect Today’s Local Government Finance Settlement announced a consultation to create a new, needs based, funding approach for local government from 2020-21. This clarity about post 2020 finances is urgently needed, but the Settlement today made no provision at all to avert the deepening immediate crisis facing the nation’s most vulnerable children and families. Children England’s CEO Kathy Evans said: At Communities and Local Government Questions on 4th December Secretary of State Sajid Javid said that the government acknowledged the strength of concerns about the financial struggles for many council children’s services, and the sector could “look to see what happens [in the Local Government Finance Settlement] as we deal with that”. Today we have looked to see what happened, and the answer is ‘nothing yet’. The sector’s call for £2bn to plug the immediate shortfall in children’s services funding represents just one fifth of the new money allocated in the most recent Budget to extending the ‘Help-to-Buy’ scheme. So it is simply not true that government cannot find or afford the money needed to invest in the care and protection of children – it has chosen not to. That choice is an act of wilful neglect of the nation’s most vulnerable children. Children’s services need an urgent funding solution that comes from our national taxation, not relying on council tax-raising freedoms or precepts. Council tax rises are hardest to raise additional funds from in precisely the most deprived areas of the country where the crisis is most serious, where residents have the lowest incomes, fewest job opportunities, and where the cuts to council grants have already been the most severe. Today’s lack of action will only strengthen our resolve to campaign for a Children Act Funding Formula to ensure the nation’s taxes are distributed to the children and families who need them, on a fair, sustainable long term basis. We are committed to influence the future finance consultation to ensure that children’s needs are expressly built in. But no child relying on crisis-stricken children’s services today should be expected to wait another three years for a better deal.