Over 120 children's organisations call for increased funding in Budget, with insight from Berrywood, Oakham School and Bristol Metropolitan Academy
A collection of over 120 children’s organisations have written to the prime minister and the chancellor, urging them to put children at the heart of new spending plans to be unveiled in the Budget on Monday the 29th of October. The group called for the government to stop “ignoring children” and stressed that support services are at “breaking point.”
The coalition is made up of representatives from the health, education, social care, poverty and disability sectors. The full text of the letter, including all signatories, can be found here.
Although the letter was primarily timed to coincide with the chancellor’s Budget preparations, it also comes only a few weeks after Theresa May declared that austerity would soon come to an end.
- Over 120 children's organisations call for increased funding
- Timing of the letter is to coincide with the Autumn Budget, released on Monday the 29th
The letter opens with: “We are writing to you because there is compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point. We believe this is because children and young people are being ignored in the government’s spending plans.” They are also co-ordinating a social media campaign, using the #ChildrenAtTheHeart.
The letter opens with: “We are writing to you because there is compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point. We believe this is because children and young people are being ignored in the government’s spending plans.”
The key body of the letter is a sequence of statistics that outline both the increased demand children’s services must deal with alongside reductions to funding. They assert that:
• 90 children are being taken into care every day – this is a record high
• Less than a third of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health problem will get access to NHS funded treatment this year
• Only three in a hundred families of disabled children think that the health and care services available to their children are adequate
• Almost three-quarters of school leaders expect they will be unable to balance their budgets in the next financial year
• The number of children with special educational needs who are awaiting provision has more than doubled since 2010
• Up to 3 million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays
Kathy Evans, chief executive of Children England and a signatory of the letter, said that children should not have to suffer for the “recklessness” of bankers and politicians. She urged May to fulfil her promise to end austerity, asserting that “austerity is not over for children – it’s getting worse. Theresa May must stop it.”
A later statement from the Local Government Association Children and Young People highlighted the Autumn Budget as a perfect opportunity to address these issues, stating: “The Autumn Budget presents the perfect opportunity for the Government to take action and give councils the funding they need to keep children safe from harm and enable them to live the happy and fulfilling lives they deserve.”
Alison Garnham, who works at the Child Poverty Action Group, stated that: “Big social security cuts are pulling more and more of our children under the official poverty line, so nine children in every class of 30 are living under the official poverty line.”
In response to these calls, the government released a statement which stressed that increased funding was planned. The government said: “we have made £200 billion available to councils up to 2020 for local services, including to support children and young people … core schools funding is increasing to £43.5 billion by 2020, including £6 billion of funding specifically for children with complex educational needs and disabilities.” They also announced a proposed new workforce which aims to provide timely and effective support. This is alongside a commitment to make £1.4 billion available to ensure that “70,000 additional children and young people a year will be able to access NHS specialist services by 2020-21.”
A later statement from the Local Government Association Children and Young People Board highlighted the Autumn Budget as a perfect opportunity to address these issues, stating: “The Autumn Budget presents the perfect opportunity for the Government to take action and give councils the funding they need to keep children safe from harm and enable them to live the happy and fulfilling lives they deserve.”
Concerns about funding for children and young people regularly appear in The Parliamentary Review. Across our primary and secondary education editions, which can be found here, schools and educational institutions have highlighted the pressure that reduced funding creates. Chris Reilly, head teacher of Berrywood Primary School, wrote in our Primary Education edition that: “Like many public-sector organisations, our greatest challenge is meeting growing need during a sustained period of funding constraint. Educationalists, child psychologists and others with a professional stake cite a decline in children’s social, emotional and academic functioning, alongside increases in mental health diagnoses. Thus, doing more with less is straining capacity in even the best placed schools and adversely affecting recruitment and retention.”
Similarly, Dr Philip Jones of Oakham Primary School also highlighted the issues schools face. He wrote that: “Our local authority is the 13th most deprived out of 326 – based on the 2015 “Indices of Deprivation”. At a time when austerity and declining education funding places even greater pressure on schools, never has Leadbeater’s notion of “living on thin air” been more apt than in the current climate.”
The executive principal of Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Sally Apps, also voiced concerns about reductions in funding but highlighted a potential solution: becoming part of a multi-academy trust or MAT. Detailing the benefits of the system, she wrote: “School funding is a huge concern across the sector: working within a MAT has enabled vulnerable schools to remain financially sound when otherwise they may have lacked the rigour and expertise to ensure sustainability. Your child would, as far as possible, be shielded from the worst effects of cuts in funding.”