Government must adopt a radical new approach to children’s services to avert the growing crisis

New research: In the wake of the Spending Round, NLGN think tank argues the Government must adopt a radical new approach to children’s services to avert the growing crisis.

  • A new report by a respected think tank argues that the Government’s latest funding pot for social care is not enough to tackle the crisis in children’s services
  • Without a major reform that is firmly focused on early intervention and prevention in the long-term, the additional monetary commitment of £1.5 billion towards social care in the Spending Round is only a sticking-plaster
  • NLGN states that the Government must seize the opportunity to support a radical approach to the design and delivery of children’s services which puts the community at its heart
  • Think tank presents strong recommendations to Government, including replacing Ofsted’s current inspection framework and a new White Paper

Against the backdrop of last week’s Spending Round, the respected public sector think tank NLGN has released a flagship report on children’s services – ‘From Tiny Acorns: Communities Shaping the Future of Children’s Services’. It argues that, while a welcome relief from a damaging, decade-long decline in local government funding, this latest cash injection will not put the current social care system on a sustainable footing and meet rising demand as the Chancellor proposed.

Children’s services continue to face an uncertain future, with the funding gap expected to rise to £3.1 billion by 2025, a growing child population and a trend of rising child poverty. NLGN argues the Government’s plans cannot stop at this short-term funding pot. The moment for a radical change of approach has arrived: one that embeds the prevention and early intervention agenda across the public sector. Without strategic policy reform, further cash will just keep ‘firefighting’ the crisis of rising demand.

NLGN’s new report identifies a solution to the spiralling crisis: the community. It proposes a radically different approach to stem current demand, envisioning children and families not as passive users of public services, but as the beating heart of delivery – presenting a future, for example, where the community takes on greater ownership for the youth centres the Chancellor now plans to fund. Councils across the UK are already collaborating with communities to shape the future of public services, and it is time for the Government to follow their lead.

Adam Lent, the Director of the New Local Government Network, said:

“Children’s services is at a crisis point. Preventative programmes that are required to stem the trend of higher and higher demand are precisely the programmes councils have had to cut due to austerity. While the Spending Round marks a supposed end to this, the short-term cash injection must be just the beginning.

“That strategy must guarantee all government departments will drive forward an early intervention and prevention agenda. The moment to harness the power of community has to be seized. Without this, children’s services will become another item on the domestic agenda subsumed by the focus on Brexit.”

NLGN’s latest research presents a series of radical policy recommendations for Government, including: replacing the current Ofsted inspection framework with one that is designed and delivered by the community; a new White Paper establishing a national strategy through the engagement of the community; and defining evidence standards to allow sufficient time for demonstrating the impact of Early Help and preventative services. It is only through these core reforms that children will have the future where, in the Chancellor’s words, “every child and young person has the opportunity to succeed”.

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Molly Jarritt, Senior External Affairs Officer at NLGN, on 07714 448036 or at
2. This research was undertaken in association with IMPOWER.
3. The full report, ‘From Tiny Acorns: Communities Shaping the Future of Children’s Services’, can be downloaded HERE.
4. New Local Government Network is an elite group of around 60 organisations from the public and private sector united by a belief in innovation and creativity. NLGN forms the safe space we need to meet as peers and have the most forward-thinking conversations in the sector. Find out more about the think tank HERE.

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