The proportion of initial social work assessments not leading to further action has hit its highest level in six years, government statistics show.
Of those referrals that led to an assessment, 27.8% resulted in no further action, up 2.4 percentage points on the previous year, according to the ‘characteristics of children in need’ statistics.
The figures, published this week, also showed the highest number of referrals to children’s services in three years, in the year ending 31 March 2017.
The statistics also found that fewer referrals to children’s services resulted in no assessment at all. Only 10% of referrals resulted in no further action, a decrease of a third over the past six years.
In total, local authorities carried out 606,920 assessments in 2016-17, a 6% increase on the previous year, with the average assessment time being 29 days.
The number of child protection enquiries carried out by children’s services also rose 7.6% on the previous year, to 185,450. The number of children on a child protection plan also increased to a record high, with 51,080 on a plan at the end of 2016-17.
More than half of assessments identified abuse or neglect as a primary need at the start, while at the end of assessments domestic violence was found to be a factor in the lives of 49.9% of children in need.