Transforming children’s services Contents


The Department for Education (the Department) has policy responsibility for children’s social care services in England, and has the strategic vision that all vulnerable children should have access to high-quality support by 2022. Local authorities in England have statutory responsibility for protecting the welfare of children and delivering children’s social care. At 31 March 2018 there were more than 400,000 children in need in England, and more than 75,000 children in care.

Between 2010–11 and 2017–18 the number of referrals to children’s social care increased broadly in line with population growth. In contrast, over the same period there was a 77% increase in child protection assessments, and a 26% increase in the number of cases where local authorities considered actual harm or neglect to have been demonstrated. There was also an increase of 15% in the most expensive and serious cases, where children are taken into care. In 2017–18, local authorities spent £8.8 billion on children’s social care. Ninety-one per cent of local authorities overspent on their children’s social care in 2017–18, leading to a total national overspend of £872 million.

Published: 22 March 2019