While Britain spends the summer bothering about a ‘do or die’ Brexit, the possibilities of a Jeremy Corbyn caretaker Government and more – back in everyday Britain a silent crisis in care is occurring. Most of the political class are aware of the care crisis for the elderly, and the demographic shift that sees accident and emergency departments overflowing.
What is much less talked about, but which is becoming acute, is the crisis in children’s services.
The number of looked-after children in England has been rising steadily for several years. In 2013, there were 68,070 children in care. In 2018, the total was 75,420: in the same period, Government grants to local government has fallen sharply.
Of these 75,420 kids, the majority are in local authorities whose services are classed as either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’. The failure is dramatic – but so is the fact that Britain is largely oblivious to it.
The public worries about the funding of the NHS, but not so much about the funding of children’s services in local government.
Money follows their worries. The next General Election, coming shortly, looks as though it will focus on the issues at the top of Ipsos MORI’s monthly survey of the concerns of the public – Brexit, the NHS and crime. It is of course these areas that Boris Johnson has found more money for in recent weeks.
To put this in context, all of these are mentioned at least three times as often as care of the elderly by the public, but looking through our monthly data, there is no spontaneous concern about looked-after children at all. Not one person mentioned it in our July study.
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, says the public would be shocked if they knew, but I think they probably won’t be.
Our analysis of what the British search for online shows hardly anyone is paying attention – unless you, gentle reader, tell them. The irony of course, is that if we continue as a country on this path, we will probably know much more about these kids, because of what they do after they leave care.
- This article was originally written for TheMJ.co.uk