Peterborough City Council spending to help children at risk rises by 50 per cent over 10 years

Councillor says early intervention is reaping rewards

Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 5:00 am

Spending on support for at risk children in Peterborough has risen by nearly 50 per cent over the last 10 years, according to new figures.

The increase takes the amount spent on early intervention support – which prevents children from coming to harm – by Peterborough City Council to £8.9 million for the financial year 2020-21

This was up 49 per cent since 2010-11, after taking inflation into account, which is effectively a rise of £2.9 million in today's money, according to researchers at Pro Bono Economic.

New figures show that Peterborough City Council's spending on early intervention support has risen by nearly 50 per cent over 10 years.

Council leaders say such support is vital in reducing the need for social workers to get involved and for ensuring children’s safety.

Five years ago, the council brought in a Family Safeguarding scheme to help bring about change in families where at least one adult is struggling with mental health issues, substance or alcohol difficulties, or domestic abuse.

And researchers say the increase in spending at Peterborough comes as the vast majority of other councils in England have seen a fall in such spending.

Councillor Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for children’s services, education, skills and the university, said: “Early help support starts from pre-birth right through to their 18th year of life.

“We are investing in early help because there is strong evidence that successfully delivering early help prevents escalation to social work intervention.

She added: “The Family Safeguarding model is a whole family approach to keeping children safe and is proven to be effective at keeping more children safely within their families and helping parents to achieve lasting change.

“Most children who face the greatest risks are those who live in families where at least one adult is struggling with mental or emotional health issues, substance or alcohol difficulties, or where there is domestic abuse – which is what Family Safeguarding seeks to change.

“We work in collaboration with our partners from probation, Barnardo’s, substance misuse provider Change Grow Live, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.”

How is the money spent?

The money funds services that include child and family centres, residential care, fostering, adoption, special guardianship and respite care.

There is support for families from short breaks to total family support plus a range of services aimed at young people, safeguarding services and youth justice.

How do we know it’s been a success?

The council says that since the introduction of Family Safeguarding the number of children coming into care has remained stable.

The number of children on a child protection plan in Peterborough has fallen by about 20 per cent.

The city has seen a 25 per cent reduction in applications for care proceedings applications going to court.

Care proceedings are at an all-time low in Peterborough.

However, the same report revealed spending on crisis and late intervention services by the council fell from £29 million to £23.8 million in real terms over the same 10 years.

But Cllr Ayres said; said: “We actually increased Children’s Service’s funding in the last financial year.

“We’ve been fortunate to have made savings and reinvest these into early help.

“The fewer children, young people and their families that need statutory services the more effective our preventative and early intervention efforts are at improving outcomes.”