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Children’s Services: Funding

Volume 639: debated on Tuesday 17 April 2018

4. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the adequacy of funding for children’s services. (904777)

In 2016-17, local authorities spent £11.9 billion on children’s services and childcare support, and we have seen child development outcomes improve significantly since 2013.

With the number of young people subject to child protection inquiries rising by 140% in the past decade, it is deeply troubling that by 2020 there will be a £2 billion funding gap in children’s services. The Minister knows as well as I do that local authorities are crying out for more support, so what urgent funding can she now make available to protect these vulnerable children?

First, we have actually increased the spending for the most vulnerable by £1 billion since 2010. That is funding for the most vulnerable through local authorities. I would point out to the hon. Lady that the important thing is the outcomes we are achieving. The fact that child development outcomes have improved since 2013 and that more children are getting that good level of development shows that we are investing our money in the right areas.

There can be no greater service to children than that provided by our teachers. The Chancellor has been very generous in funding a pay rise for NHS staff outside the NHS budgets. What discussions have been had with the Department for Education to see if the same offer can be afforded to teachers?

It is very important to point out that the agreement with NHS workers and NHS unions has been in exchange for productivity improvements. We are altering the contracts to make them more effective, helping the people in these jobs to achieve more at the same time as giving them a pay rise. The situation in schools is different. Headteachers have much more power over what they pay individual teachers. In fact, last year teachers got an average pay rise of 4.6%, including promotions, so headteachers do have that flexibility to make decisions about what is best for their school.

Can the Minister explain why, when we face a national epidemic of knife crime and serious youth violence affecting more and more children in this country, the Treasury failed to provide one penny of extra resource for the Government’s new serious violence strategy, which will now be funded by £40 million of cuts to an already overstretched Home Office?

I point out to the hon. Lady that real-terms spending in the Home Office is going up. We are funding the Home Office, but the important thing is what we do with that money, and that is why the Home Secretary has outlined the serious violence strategy to deal with that issue.