Two thirds of social workers say cuts are impeding their ability to intervene in neglect

Research published by Action for Children reveals 32% of children's social workers feel powerless to intervene in cases of child neglect

sad child
Photo: Rex Features

Almost two thirds of social workers admit budget cuts have impeded their ability to intervene in neglect cases, while nearly a third feel ‘powerless’ to help neglected children, according to research by Action for Children.

The research, published today, also revealed 75% of children in the UK know another child suffering from neglect, while 73% of social workers said public spending cuts would continue to make it more difficult for them to intervene in neglect cases.

Key findings in the report:

52% of children who were worried about another child told someone about their concerns

47% of children said a safe adult to talk to would help a child they had been worried about

32% of children’s social workers said they felt powerless to intervene in cases of child neglect

65% of children’s social workers said cuts impeded their ability to intervene in cases

73% saying public spending cuts will make it more difficult to intervene in the future

The charity is now urging the government to develop a national strategy to help tackle the problem, revealing neglect is the most common reason for a child protection referral to social services and features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.

In its report, ‘Child neglect: the scandal that never breaks’, the charity suggests practical measures that could be included in a national strategy, such as a web portal where people can report concerns about children and systems allowing accurate birth data to be collected.

The report is based on conversations with more than 18,000 people, including 4,000 children.

“Child neglect is rife,” said Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children. “Evidence points to an average of more than one child on every street in the country who is suffering from some form of neglect.

“They are not fed or clothed properly. They consistently miss medical appointments or are absent from school.

“They are ignored by their parents, left on their own and completely disregarded by the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally.

“Our research shows that children as young as eight can see it, so why can’t the government do more?”

The report comes on the same day that Ofsted research warned social workers must be better trained and supported to identify and assess neglect.

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