London Councils represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. It is a cross party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. London Councils makes the case to government, the Mayor and others to get the best deal for Londoners and to ensure that our member authorities have the resources, freedoms and powers to do the best possible job for their residents and local businesses.
London boroughs are experiencing increased pressure on their children’s social care and high needs budgets. Quantitative research completed by London Councils in October 2018 found a collective overspend of £112 million across London on Children’s Social Care (CSC) in 2017/18. The survey also highlighted that every local authority except one recorded a shortfall in the high needs block of the Dedicated Schools Grant, resulting in a collective £77.6 million shortfall across the capital. Demand for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision has risen by a third since 2013/14. Therefore, making the case for sufficient funding for children’s services, alongside taking steps to reduce demand and spend in this area, are key priorities for London boroughs.
Despite the overall trend of high spend on high needs and CSC, there is significant variation amongst the boroughs regarding levels of spend and demand. Therefore, there may be examples of practices and approaches in some boroughs that could support other boroughs to better manage their demand and costs.
The overall objectives for this children’s services research project are to:
• Identify the causes of increased spending in children’s services.
• Reach conclusions on the types of management action that can reduce cost while assuring quality and safeguarding.
• secure more government funding for children’s services, both in children’s social care and the high needs block.
• support the boroughs to make changes to practice and so reduce costs whilst maintaining positive outcomes for children.
The final outputs of this work will be: a report produced by the beginning of May 2019 (prior to the Spending Review) that provides robust evidence on the drivers of high demand and costs in high needs and CSC; and recommendations for actions that would support London boroughs to better manage the current pressures. The successful tenderer will also be expected to present the draft report at a roundtable meeting of senior borough officers, and to present the final report at a future meeting of senior politicians and officers across the London boroughs.