To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the gap between demand and provision of social care services for disabled children and their families; what steps he is taking to address any such gap; and if he will make a statement.
25 July 2018
Working Together to Safeguard Children (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2) sets out how local authorities should provide effective, evidence-based services to protect and promote the welfare of children, including disabled children. The guidance was updated on July 4 2018 and states that it is better to provide services addressing needs early, rather than reacting later. The statutory duty to provide short breaks, introduced in 2011, falls on local authorities. In the transition up to 2015, £880 million was provided to local authorities; funding for short breaks is now is an un-ring-fenced part of the wider local government finance settlement.
The 2015 Spending Review made available more than £200 billion until 2020 for councils to deliver the local services their communities want to see, including services for disabled children. In February, Parliament confirmed the 2018-19 settlement for local government which has provided a £1.3 billion increase in resources to local government over the next two years - £44.3 billion in 2017-18 to £45.6 billion in 2019-20. This recognises both the growing pressure on local government's services and higher-than-expected inflation levels.
The Department for Education has committed almost £270 million since 2014 in addition to the core local government funding settlement, to help local authorities learn from what works and to support improvement in the children's social care sector. This includes £200 million for the Innovation Programme, which is funding the Ealing project to provide interventions in the form of therapeutic breaks, to disabled children and young people that reduce the risk of escalation, and provide long-term solutions to children and families. Learning from innovation projects is published on the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme website (http://innovationcsc.co.uk).
The government is conducting a review of the relative needs and resources of local authorities that will develop a robust, up-to-date approach to distributing funding across all local authorities in England at local government finance settlements, including for children’s services. To inform the review, the Department for Education and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have jointly-commissioned a data research and collection project on cost and demand pressures for children’s services, to understand local authorities’ relative funding needs. We are working towards implementation in 2020-21, while keeping this date under review as our work progresses.