A damning report released this week by Action for Children has revealed that a staggering 140,000 children referred to social services in England because of concerns for their welfare are not receiving help.
Of the many effects of Government cuts the news that thousands of children are being denied the help they desperately need is one of the hardest to stomach. Just one look at the statistics for Brighton and Hove shows that years of imposed funding cuts have hit our young people hard.
Funding changes for schools will mean fewer resources to support children in need of extra help – a cause for concern given only five per cent of the city’s children in care are achieving the expected standards in reading, writing and maths by age 11. In Brighton and Hove 18.1 per cent of all people under 20 are living in poverty, with welfare reforms like universal credit and the benefit cap putting families at increased risk of homelessness and food scarcity.
It’s clear to see that children silently bear the brunt of Conservative Government cuts made across public services.
As budgets for local councils rapidly shrink, support workers find themselves without the resources to offer help where it’s needed most. A report on young brothers from Brighton who died having been recruited by extremists to fight in Syria highlighted that local social workers felt they had ‘no tools in the toolbox.’ As a funding shortfall for children’s services of £2bn is expected nationally by 2020 it is critical that services are there to help children before their problems escalate.
Plans by the local Labour council to slash city-wide youth services were firmly rejected by both young people and Green councillors, who succeeded in reinstating this vital budget. So it’s incredibly disappointing that just this week the Labour leadership quietly announced they have axed the detached youth work team that offers services where children live. Preventative services work, reduce demand for high cost services and keep children safe. Greens will continue to fight to protect services and give our young people the help they deserve. We owe future generations nothing less.
Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Green Group on Brighton and Hove City Council.