Austerity, Poverty, and Children’s Services Quality in England: Consequences for Child Welfare and Public Services

Calum Webb, Davara Bennett, Paul Bywaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In England, the dominant policy narrative recognises no association between spending on children’s services and quality and a limited association between quality and deprivation. We combined 374 inspection outcomes between 2011 and 2019 with data on preventative and safeguarding expenditure and Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) scores. A multilevel logistic regression model predicting ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgements suggests each £100 increase in preventative spending per child was associated with a 69 per cent increase (95 per cent CI: 27.5 per cent, 124 per cent) in the odds of a positive inspection. A one-decile increase in deprivation was associated with a 16 per cent (95 per cent CI: −25 per cent, −5.7 per cent) decrease. Safeguarding expenditure was not associated with outcomes. Deprived communities have worse access to good-quality children’s services and government policies that have increased poverty and retrenched preventative services have likely exacerbated this inequality. Further, inattention to socioeconomic context in inspections raises concerns about their use in ‘take over’ policies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Early online date3 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2022

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