Severe funding shortages in children’s services pushed almost nine in ten councils into the red last year, Local Government Association (LGA) figures have revealed.
Council overspend for children’s social care services reached £80m in 2017/18, with 88% of local authorities exceeding their budgets.
The association said the government needed to allocate more money to councils amid the overspend, which is spilling into all areas of the country.
It estimates children’s services will face a £3.1bn shortfall by 2025.
Councils have warned that growing demand coupled with severe funding cuts have left services at breaking point.
The number of children with child protection plans has grown by more than 2,700 over the past year – the biggest annual increase councils have seen in four years and an 84% rise over the past decade.
Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: ‘This should be a wake-up call to the country-wide crisis we are facing in funding services to protect vulnerable children and young people, which as these figures show is now being felt in all towns and cities across the country.’
She said it was ‘vital’ that the government tackled the cash crisis in children’s services in next year’s spending review, as well as support early intervention programmes to protect vulnerable boys and girls from being put into care.
The Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) said: ‘We want every child to have the best start in life, which is why we have made £200bn available to councils up to 2020 for local services including those for children and young people.
‘We recently announced an additional £410m for local authorities to invest in adult and children’s social care in 2019-20. This is in addition to £84m of extra funding over the next five years to support local authorities to invest in initiatives that improve social work practice and decision making to help children stay at home safely with their families.’