The following are some extracts from Children’s lives in Southend-on-Sea (a report by The Children’s Society, May 2016).
· There are currently 38,216 children in Southend-on-Sea, with 1,024 of these children being categorised as ‘children in need’. This report sets out recommendations on the steps you can take to help them.
· In Southend-on-Sea, of the 1,024 children classified as ‘children in need’, 206 are aged 16 or 17.
· Last year in the South East 1890 children aged 16 or 17 presented as homeless. These teenagers are often at serious risk of harm and can be escaping homes where they face problems such as substance abuse, violence or severe overcrowding.
· In the year 2014–15, total spending on children and young people’s mental health spend services (across Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), local authorities and NHS England) in the South East was £73,971,000. The average local authority CAMHS expenditure for local authorities in the South East was £1,124,000 with the average spend across England being £949,000. In the same period, the average spending by CCG on mental health for children in the South East was £1,762,000 – compared to the England average of £2,721,000.
· The Government allocated £4,777,613 in early intervention funding to Southend-on-Sea Council this year, that’s a reduction of £5,428,865 per year compared to 2010. This massive reduction means local authorities are less able to address the problems experienced by children and families at an early stage. Children suffer harm that could have been prevented and the state is faced with greater costs as they are forced to deal with more entrenched, serious and expensive problems at a later date.
· 44.71% Decrease in early intervention grant to Southend-on-Sea council between 2010–11 and 2015–16
· In the South East, 660 unaccompanied asylum seeking children were in the care of local authorities. These are children fleeing persecution, war and abuse from across the globe. There are also many other children in the region with an irregular immigration status which can cut them from support and leave them with an unsecure future.
· It is unacceptable that any child is living in poverty in the UK, let alone almost 3.7 million children. Poverty has a devastating effect on children, harming their immediate well-being and drastically reducing opportunities throughout their lives. There are 10,662 children living in poverty in Southend-on-Sea.
· Our Debt Trap research also identified that in 2014–15 there were 3,850 children living in families in council tax debt in Southend-on-Sea. There are 1.6 million children living in families who have faced council tax debt, with 2 in 10 families visited by bailiffs to reclaim council tax. This equates to thousands of children experiencing fear, intimidation and worry at the hands of bailiffs.
· Our report Show Some Warmth7 found that there are around 6,338 children in Southend-on-Sea living in energy debt. Children in families in energy debt are three times more likely to have damp or mould in their homes and to have been ill last winter, and are twice as likely to have breathing problems.
· The introduction of the new Universal Credit (UC) benefits system will have a profound impact on millions of children and families across the country. Once it has been fully introduced, around half of children in the UK will live in families in receipt of UC.