Budgets for children’s early help services suffer £743 million funding drop in five years, figures show

Posted by / Thursday 27 September 2018 /

Figures released today on government spending on children’s services show:

  • Budgets for ‘early intervention’ children’s services, which can help stop family problems such as abuse and neglect spiralling out of control, have dropped by £743 million in the last five years - a decrease of 26%
  • Budgets for children’s centres across England have dropped by £450 million in the last five years - a decrease of 42%
  • Budgets for safeguarding and children in care across England have increased by £597 million in the last five years - an increase of 10%

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: “Crippling cuts in government funding are putting councils in an impossible position, leaving them with no option but to cut budgets for vital early help services that protect vulnerable children.

“We know from our own work that without the safety net of well-funded early help services like children’s centres, thousands of children at risk of abuse, neglect or domestic violence are being left to fend for themselves until problems spiral out of control. This failure to act with the right help, at the right time, will inevitably have devastating consequences for some children that last a lifetime.

“As these figures clearly show, it also makes no financial sense to cut early help as councils are then forced to spend vast amounts on expensive crisis interventions, ‘firefighting’ problems after they have escalated. The Government needs to allocate additional, dedicated funding for children’s services at next year’s Spending Review. Without urgent action, we risk failing thousands more children across the country.”


Media contact:   Huw Beale at Action for Children – 07718 114 038 / huw.beale@actionforchildren.org.uk

Out of hours:   07802 806 679 / mediateam@actionforchildren.org.uk


  • Link to the DfE figures - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/planned-la-and-school-expenditure-2018-to-2019-financial-year
  • All figures are presented in real terms. Figures have been rounded.
  • Action for Children research found that in just one year, 140,000 vulnerable children in England referred to social services by teachers, police or health professionals for concerns including abuse and neglect did not get help because their needs fell short of the criteria for support.
  • HOW ACTION FOR CHILDREN WORKS: Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year. org.uk

Find out more


Our Policy and Research

We work tirelessly campaigning and influencing government, fighting for children's rights.

Learn more

Read our report

New analysis by Action for Children, The Children's Society and the National Children's Bureau.

Learn more

Policy updates

Find out the latest from our policy team on our blog.

Learn more