Reporting Year 2021

Characteristics of children in need

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These statistics, derived from the annual Children in Need Census, provide data on children in England referred to children’s social care services, assessments carried out relating to those children and whether a child became the subject of a child protection plan.

Children in Need are a legally defined group of children (under the Children Act 1989), assessed as needing help and protection as a result of risks to their development or health. This group includes children subject to Child in Need Plans, Child Protection plans, Looked After Children, young carers, and disabled children. Children in need include young people aged 18 or over who continue to receive care, accommodation or support from children’s services and unborn children.

The latest statistics relate to the year ending 31 March 2021, with comparable time series data available from 2013.

Headline facts and figures - 2021

This is the first release in the series to be fully impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In the year ending 31 March 2021, there was a 31% decrease in referrals from schools (a fall of just under 36,000 referrals), reflective of the restrictions on school attendance in place for parts of the year. This in turn may have contributed to the falls seen in the other headline measures in this release.

150 out of 151 local authorities provided a return for the 2021 collection. Hackney were unable to do so, due to a cyberattack which had a significant impact on their information management systems. As a result, 2020 figures for Hackney have been included in the 2021 national and regional totals. 

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