‘SEVERE funding cuts’ are letting down around 6,200 teenagers across Worcestershire whose lives are being damaged by their parents’ alcohol abuse, a charity chief has warned.

3,000 families with children aged 10-17 from across the UK took part in The Children’s Society’s (TCS) survey, which found that around 1,000 children from Worcester alone were living with parents who abuse alcohol.

Matthew Reed, TCS chief executive, said: “At a time when demand for council children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central government are leaving more and more to deal with these huge problems alone.”

In light of the findings, CS is calling on the government to urgently address the £2billion funding gap for local council children’s services in the upcoming Autumn Budget.

The funding earmarked for children, families and communities by Worcestershire County Council (WCC) was cut by £2.1m earlier this year, down from £84.8m in the 2016/2017 budget to £8.2m in 2017/2018.

As cuts to children’s services like these bite, the early intervention services that could identify struggling young people and provide targeted support have shrunk across the UK, say TCS.

However, the WCC’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing has moved to reassure those affected that reduction of alcohol harm remains a “major” priority for the council.

Cllr John Smith said: “The county council works closely with all partners including local health services, social care, schools and voluntary sector to identify and support parents with substance misuse and mental health issues.

“This includes engaging them in specialist treatment to reduce the impact of substance misuse and mental ill health on their children and families.

“In addition, all service users in treatment are required to share information about their parenting responsibilities with the aim of preventing harm and improving outcomes for children and young people.”

Cllr Smith went on to say that “robust mechanisms” are in place to provide targeted help and support to children, young people and their families and to refer to specialist substance misuse or mental health services when required.

He said the reduction of alcohol harm is one of three major priorities in the council’s joint health and wellbeing strategy.

“We have an evidence based action plan to tackle this focussing on prevention and early intervention.

“We are holding an alcohol stakeholder event next week which will highlight alcohol harms and showcase some of the work we are doing,” he added.

TCS’s analysis of its findings demonstrate that the problems teenagers face are rarely standalone, but interwoven with other serious issues.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of teenagers from homes plagued by alcohol misuse were also taking on caring responsibilities at home, likely to include domestic chores, taking care of siblings or nursing parents suffering from withdrawal.

Adult mental health problems (59 per cent) and longstanding illness or disability (44 per cent) were also commonplace in these homes, indicating that adults may be self-medicating with alcohol to cope with these and other stressors in the family.

“Millions of teenagers in the UK are suffering in silence with problems that would floor an adult,” said Mr Reed.

“Specialist services working with families to combat problem drinking, support for teenagers whose parent has mental ill health, or safe spaces for them to go when pressures at home mount, are becoming ever harder to find.

“Without support at an early stage as problems emerge, these families can quickly reach crisis point and the risks for the children involved grow,” he added.