Children’s lives are being put at risk due to cutbacks to local services, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned.
Ministers must act to plug a £3bn funding shortfall in Monday’s Budget as children’s services are facing a “national emergency”, the Labour leader added.
It comes after an open letter signed by 120 organisations, including the National Children’s Bureau, the National Education Union and the Child Poverty Action Group, warned services were at breaking point.
The chief executives cautioned that a record number of children were being taken into care (90 a day) and cuts could mean more than three million children go hungry during school holidays.
The Local Government Association, meanwhile, has calculated that there will a £3bn funding gap by 2025.
“Tory austerity is putting children’s lives in danger,” Corbyn said.
“Cutting the services that protect and support children and young people is a tragic false economy that will blight the lives of millions of children and young people.
“These cuts risk more children ending up in care, excluded from school or falling prey to gang violence. This is a national emergency.
“If austerity is over as Theresa May has claimed, the Chancellor must use the budget next week to provide the funds urgently needed to keep children safe.”
Corbyn issued his plea following a visit to Norwich, where Norfolk County Council has announced it will close 46 of its 53 children’s centres, despite 23,000 youngsters having used a centre in the last year.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“Funding cuts are increasingly leaving services struggling to provide the care and support that thousands of children and families rely on.
“Councils have long-called for the Government to recognise the urgency of the funding crisis facing children’s services, which are fast approaching a tipping point and face a funding gap of £3 billion by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.
“The Autumn Budget presents the perfect opportunity for the Government to take action and give councils the funding they need to keep children safe from harm and enable them to live the happy and fulfilling lives they deserve.”
The government said £200bn had been made available to councils up to 2020 and core schools funding is increasing to £43.5bn by the same year, including £6bn for children with special educational needs and disabilities.