The Children’s Society, a national charity that helps children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, has issued a damning report into the level of care and services children and young adults can expect in Cambridge.
Across Cambridgeshire there are 2,186 children registered as being in need because of abuse and neglect, with 462 sexual crimes committed against children according to the latest local police figures.
Of the 20,106 children in Cambridge, nearly 4,000 live in poverty. 1,100 of these children live in working households, where at least one parent is in employment. 3,640 children in Cambridge live in families suffering from problem debts. The report highlights that a third of these families have cut back on food within the last month, with a similar proportion saying they have turned off heating and stopped buying clothes for their children.
The introduction of the new Universal Credit (UC) will impact 6,700 children living in the city. While a four-year freeze to their benefits and the cumulative changes to support will mean many families will lose out overall. Support for children with disabilities and the abolition of the Severe Disability Premium means many disabled children will get considerably less support under UC – for many, the value of the disabled child additions in UC will be worth only half their current value, having a significant effect on their family income and wellbeing.
The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) currently gives additional support to disabled adults with no other adult to care for them (including disabled single parents cared for by a young carer). The Government is abolishing the SDP through the introduction of the Universal Credit. This will cost families with a young carer up to £62 per week (£3,225 per year).
In 2010, before the emergency budget, £3.2 billion was allocated by central government for local authority early intervention services. By comparison, the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review set aside £939 million for early intervention. This equates to a real terms reduction of 71% for early intervention services between 2010–11 and 2019–20.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “The Government allocated £13,125,796 in early intervention funding to Cambridgeshire in 2015-16, that is a reduction of £11,224,619 compared to 2010.
“This continual and shocking reduction means local authorities struggle to address the problems young people are faced with at the earliest possible stages. The saddest fact of all is that children are suffering serious harm that could have been prevented if funding levels were maintained from the last Labour Government.
“The lack of early intervention means heartache, and greater costs to the state as problems become entrenched and far more serious to deal with – instead of picking on the weak and vulnerable this Government should get its house in order, and find its heart”.