Today, a report by the charity Action for Children has slammed Theresa May and her predecessor, David Cameron, for pushing through with austerity measures that have resulted in tens of thousands of vulnerable children who’ve been referred to social services being turned away due to insufficient resources.
According to this report, up to 140,000 children in England “did not meet the threshold” for social care, were not referred to an early help scheme, and therefore turned away when local authorities closed their cases. The threshold is currently a vulnerable child who is at “crisis point” – as opposed to a child simply being in an abusive or neglectful environment. Why? Action for Children claim that this is because local councils have been forced to push through drastic cuts to care services that have been hoisted on them by successive Conservative governments and their damaging austerity agenda.
Action for Children sent freedom of information requests to 152 English councils asking how many vulnerable children had their cases closes and the number that were subsequently referred to early help schemes. They also asked for the reasons behind applications of those who were turned away in the first place. What they discovered is a damning indictment of the Conservative austerity programme, and the complicity of local councils, who could have used their vast reserves to provide a vital lifeline to these children.
The FoI results indicated that 184,500 assessments of vulnerable children resulted in their cases being closed due to not meeting the threshold for access to council services. After their cases were closed, up to 140,000 were then refused early help schemes due to not meeting the threshold for that either. Many of these neglected children were clearly in need of help and intervention, yet it appears that the Tory cuts over the last seven years have ensured that councils will only take the most serious of cases.
Action for Children chief executive, Sir Tony Hawkhead, told The Morning Star:
“Social care can’t just be there for when a family is in meltdown.
Every day too many children’s lives are overshadowed by drugs, alcoholism, domestic violence and neglect – a toxic recipe for all kinds of problems now and in later life.
Punishing savings targets have given local authorities no option but to drastically shrink or abandon services, including family support, leaving large numbers of children on the fringes of social care without the help they need.
We are missing opportunities to help these children and their families at an early stage.”
Action for Children is now demanding that Theresa May’s government desist with mindless austerity, and provide increased funding for councils so they can expand social care services. This will allow councils to reach as many neglected children as possible at the earliest and arguably most vital stage of their lives.