It has been revealed that Milton Keynes Council is among the best in the region for funding early help services aimed at preventing children from going into care.
Since 2018, the Council has spent on average a third of its children’s care budget on early help services. This means that there have been high levels of investment in Children’s Centres, Family Assessments and Support Teams.
This is something that isn’t replicated across the country; local authority spending on early intervention services has fallen by £1.9 billion in the past ten years.
Milton Keynes’ neighbouring authorities, including Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, spend considerably less on the vital service while Northamptonshire’s early help budget has been cut almost completely.
The downward trend in spending across the country has led to leading children’s charities calling for more money to be allocated to early help, as the number of children in care has risen by a quarter (24%) in the past decade.
Barnardo’s, Action for Children, NSPCC and The Children’s Society are among those joining forces for the ‘Stopping the Spiral Campaign’. They request the Government provides a ring-fenced grant for early support, and extra money for local authority children’s services in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Councillor Zoe Nolan, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Children & Families, said:
“Early intervention can be vital in preventing children from going into care. Sadly, the lack of funding from Central Government has meant that too many authorities are forced to cut down spending on essential early support, which then makes them reliant on costly crisis intervention. Thankfully in Milton Keynes we buck the national trend. A large proportion of our care costs goes towards early prevention, which means we are in a far better position than our neighbouring councils.”
Lib Dem Councillor Marie Bradburn, Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel, added: “Early help services are a major priority for the Council, however, with a surge in referrals and increase in the cost-of-living, we need further support. The Progressive Alliance backs the Stopping the Spiral campaign and calls on the Government to announce urgent extra funding for local authority children’s services in the Autumn statement.”