Spending on the most vulnerable children has increased by over £1.5 billion since 2010. Thanks to our increased investment in childcare, the overall early years and children’s services budget has increased to £12.7 billion this year.
Will the Minister please acknowledge that she is simply putting a sticking plaster on the crisis in children’s social care? It is essential that children’s social care gets an extra £3 billion by 2025, and the Chancellor’s Budget commitment is less than 3% of the way there. Will the Minister admit that we are not on track to meet this target?
It is certainly the case that we are seeing rising demand for children’s services, but the important thing is that we help children’s services departments intervene early. We are rolling out a pilot programme this year to adopt models like that used in North Yorkshire that has reduced the number of children going into care, the number being arrested and the number ending up in accident and emergency, so it is important that we spend the money in the right way.
Me and my colleagues on the all-party parliamentary group for children were delighted by the extra money that was found for children’s services in the Budget. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that we continue to distribute extra funds fairly across all regions of the UK?
My hon. Friend is exactly right. We also need to make sure that we are sharing the best practice of those authorities that are successfully helping to keep children out of care. We are also using the initiative of the children’s Minister to ensure that we are using independent school facilities better and helping with mental health problems. We need to do all those things.