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Kids' lives at risk due to £2bn Tory funding hole

TORY cuts to children’s services in England are putting kids’ lives at risk, according to a new Labour study published yesterday, as councils face a £2 billion funding hole.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that the party’s research showed that the number of youngsters taken into care was on the rise, and had reached levels not seen since the 1980s.

In the 12 months to March last year, a total of 72,670 vulnerable children were taken in by children’s homes or foster families.

Mr McDonnell visited the Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre in London to launch the party’s report highlighting the worsening funding crisis in English children’s services.

Councils have warned that they face a £2bn funding black hole by 2020.

Mr McDonnell said: “It is a national scandal that vulnerable children are paying the price for the austerity policies of this Tory government.”

He called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to allocate the £2bn needed in his Spring Budget next week.

Labour’s research showed that the number of children at risk of abuse who are subject to a protection plan rose by 29 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

In the same period, the number of children social workers assessed as being in need rose by 5 per cent and the number of children taken into care went up by 10 per cent.

However, councils in England — of which three-quarters have exceeded their children’s services budgets and have a combined overspend of £605 million — have seen a 40 per cent cut in early intervention spending.

And the National Children’s Bureau said that more than one in three councillors are warning that cuts have left them with insufficient resources to support vulnerable children.

Labour cited a bureau report which expects a further real-terms cut of £388m to children’s services budgets by the end of the decade.

Mr McDonnell said that “failure to act would be morally reprehensible.”

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne warned that more vulnerable children who are at risk of harm will not get the help they need from social services if councils find themselves in even more serious difficulty.

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