Cllr Keith Glazier, the leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC), has raised his concern that councils are struggling to protect vulnerable children due to a funding crisis.
“Young people will not stop being neglected or abused during coronavirus so we sadly expect a rise in cases once lockdown ends, especially with the emotional and economic impact of the virus on families. It is vital that we put in place robust plans to support all of the vulnerable children and families who will have seen a dramatic change in their circumstances during this unprecedented period.” Cllr Glazier said.
“However, with reductions in funding, rising demand and preventative services being reduced, children’s services face a perfect storm as we emerge from lockdown.”
Cllr Glazier, who is also Rye’s elected representative on ESCC, was speaking following the publication of a Country Council Network (CNN) report, ‘Recovering from Covid-19: Supporting Children and Families‘.
Funding cut as costs rise
CCN, which is a consortium of Conservative-run local authorities, revealed that core government funding for children’s services has been reduced by 35%, or £354m, since 2015/16. It also says that the costs of providing the services has increased by £600m over the same period.
The CCN says that a “perfect storm” of lower budgets, rising demand and fewer preventative services to support young people could have a long-term impact on their ability to support vulnerable children and troubled families.
As previously reported in Rye News, the town already has a stubbornly high percentage of children living in poverty, with 21% of children in Rye living in poverty, which is 4% higher than the national average and 8% higher than the Sussex average of 13%.
In addition, CNN have raised its concern that a second wave of coronavirus would leave councils with a multibillion-pound budget shortfall, triggering a wave of insolvencies and forcing a fresh round of emergency cuts to local services.
Little room for further cuts
In a separate report by consultants Grant Thornton for CCN they modelled three scenarios that would leave the 39 CCN member councils with a collective shortfall of between £2.5bn and £4.5bn by April 2022, depending on whether a Covid-19 second wave leads to a second lockdown.
Many councils don’t have the ability to find further cuts because they have already experienced a decade of funding reductions since the financial crash of 2008. The report said that the cuts that can be made, have already been made and there is very little room to make further cuts to frontline services.
The County Councils Network is made up of all 25 Conservative run county councils in England, including ESCC, and 11 county unitary authorities.
Image Credits: County Councils Network .