As a coalition of leading independent and third-sector providers of children's services, we are deeply concerned by the threat of potential funding cuts to vital services for children across Scotland's councils. This is a view echoed most recently by the EIS teaching union. In this context we have launched a national petition calling on the Scottish government to ensure that Scotland's councils protect vital children's services when setting their future budgets.
The petition, which is available on the Scottish Parliament website (www.scottish.parliament.ukGettingInvolvedPetitionsASNfunding), forms part of our Scotland-wide campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of potential council cuts to children's services.
Demands on children's services are at their highest since 1981, with the latest figures showing that 16,248 children are being looked after by councils. In addition, there has been an 89 per cent increase in the number of children with additional support needs in Scotland since 2010, with the figure now standing at 118,034. This escalation will clearly have an impact on teachers. These increases are set against a backdrop of budget reductions and the UK government threatening further cuts of #163;25 billion.
Councils are therefore being required to achieve more with less and this serves only to increase the barriers that departments face in delivering the best outcomes for vulnerable young people.
A society should be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable citizens and, for councils, cutting children's services should simply not be an option. We must therefore do all that we can in order to protect the provision of these vital services.
The Scottish Children's Services Coalition comprising: Tom McGhee, managing director, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, chief executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Stuart Jacob, director, Falkland House School; Sophie Dow, founder, Mindroom; Sophie Pilgrim, director, Kindred.