Poorest areas face biggest cuts to children's services

There have been warnings from councils and charities that a spending squeeze is threatening early help for vulnerable families in England.

New figures from the Department for Education have been reported exclusively by the BBC and analysed by researchers at Huddersfield and Sheffield universities. They show that since 2010, council areas with the highest levels of deprivation and need have faced the biggest cuts.

Adjusted for inflation, the figures show overall spending on children's services has fallen by 16% across England - but in the poorest areas the figure is 27%, compared with 4% in the wealthiest areas.

And spending on intervention services to help families before they reach a crisis has fallen by 47% overall - but the figure in the poorest boroughs is 54%, while in the wealthiest it is 33%.

Responding to the story, Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

"It is wholly unclear why families living in the poorest areas continue to be the hit the hardest by cuts to services. It is the children of these families that are most at risk of poor physical and mental health.

"Last month, Public Health England revealed that the gap between rich and poor is widening. Children are the section of the population most likely to live in poverty.

"Getting it right in childhood is the best way to protect health throughout life. Taking away the very services that identify and help address problems in childhood makes no sense and must be reconsidered. This is why we call on Government to resource public health appropriately and reverse recent cuts.

"Reducing, not exacerbating child poverty must be a cardinal goal of Government. Binding national targets are required and in order to ensure new policies do not have a detrimental impact on children, a 'child health in all policies approach' to new developments."

You can view the story on the BBC's website.