Children in poverty: 1.5m in Britain face each day without enough food and care

Study finds that professionals are struggling to cope

Up to 1.5 million children across Britain go without food, care and education every day, new research into child neglect has shown.

Some 40 per cent of teachers, police officers and social workers in 27 Local Authorities around the country told investigators from YouGov and the University of Sterling that they regularly came into contact with deprived children, but felt powerless to help.

Neglect, which is defined by the government as a “persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological need”, is now a factor in 60 per cent of infant deaths or serious injuries, the findings say.

The shadow Children’s minister, Lisa Nandy, said the investigation, which is part of an ongoing project by Action for Children, shed light on a constant failure to protect vulnerable families.

“It’s a really shocking statistic, but it’s not a surprise given that there’s been a sharp increase in the stress on families, combined with cuts to local authorities,” she said.

“With all the focus being on free schools and academies, it leaves very little room for child protection. The Department for Education’s priorities are absolutely in the wrong order and a report like this should act as a wake-up call to ministers. They are creating a perfect storm; the situation for the most vulnerable children looks really bleak.”

The news comes a week after the Government faced criticism for announcing a further cut to early intervention measures of £17m next year and £32m in 2014/15. A Department for Education spokesman said: “We agree that we need to intervene early to help children at risk of abuse. We are cutting back the bureaucracy to let social workers get on with the job of protecting vulnerable children. Where children are suffering abuse or neglect they should be taken into care more quickly.”

Some 6,000 front-line workers and parents were polled between June and October last year as part of The State of Child Neglect report.

Just 12 per cent of staff in key intervention services said they felt able to intervene if necessary, adding to evidence that social services were over-stretched.

The annual report from the British Association of Social Workers, published in May, concluded 8 out 10 care workers already couldn’t manage growing workloads.

There were fewer than 23,000 children in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in child protection proceedings due to neglect, the Scottish university found, just 1.5 per cent of the total number of potentially neglected infants.

Half of those surveyed said cut-backs in on-the-ground funding had already made it more difficult to stop cases of neglect and 29 per cent of professionals feared further spending cuts would make intervention even more difficult.

Researchers concluded “government commitment to early help services is inconsistently translated into practice, with only piecemeal delivery in some local areas”.

Professor Corinne May-Cahal, the co-chair of the College of Social Work, said: “This report reaffirms the need for adequately funded universal early help services to support parents in crisis. We are increasingly concerned that a reduction in funding for preventative services will put increasing pressure on social workers.”

Dame Clare Tickell, CEO of Action for Children, said of the findings: “Vulnerable children are falling through the cracks of a protection system that is failing some of those who need it most – sometimes with tragic consequences.”

Case study: ‘I understand why my children were taken away’

Before her 20th birthday, Gemma had three children and a fourth on the way. Her partner, David, the father to her little girl, was controlling and often abusive. Their house was dirty, often without amenities, and she had no idea how to look after her growing family.

Social services intervened after the police were called. With support, and after her partner was imprisoned, she recovered.

“I understand why my children were taken away,” she says. “Although I still find it hard [the children remain in care], I accept that it was for the best. I’m determined to be a good mum.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map