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Posted: 07 July 2015

What has happened to funding for early help services?

Cuts That Cost: Trends in Funding for Early Intervention Services, a joint report we created with the National Children’s Bureau, in collaboration with Children & Young People Now, sets out trends in funding from central Government, and in spending on early help services by local authorities.

In 2010, a number of different funding streams for early intervention were pulled together into the Early Intervention Grant. This included:

  • support for children’s centres
  • information and advice for young people including careers services
  • teenage pregnancy and substance misuse services
  • young offender and crime prevention services
  • family support services
  • early years and children’s social care workforce development

The total value of the Early Intervention Grant when it was introduced was around £3.2 billion in today’s prices. By 2015 however, the value of the grant has been more than halved to around £1.4 billion. By the end of 2015-16, the allocation provided to local authorities through the revenue support grant will have been cumulatively reduced by £6.8 billion compared to funding for comparator services prior to the emergency budget in 2010.

By the end of 2015-16, allocation provided to local authorities will have been cumulatively reduced by £6.8 billion

Our interactive map, below, shows how changes in funding break down for each local authority in England. These changes are presented in real terms and all amounts are given in 2015-16 prices.

What has been the impact on local authority spending on early help?

Overall, local authorities in England reduced spending on children’s centres, young people’s and family support services by over £718 million in real terms between 2010-11 and 2014-15, a 24 percent reduction in funding. This amounts to cumulative spending reductions of over £1.5 billion over the five years 2010-11 to 2014-15. Spending on children’s centres and young people’s services is expected to fall further in 2015-16.

It is clear that spending reductions over the last five years are having an impact on the make-up and availability of early intervention services. For example, 79% of local authorities responding to a recent ADCS survey reported that early intervention services, including children’s centres and youth services, are having to become more targeted due to funding pressures 

What needs to be done?

Having already seen substantial reductions in early intervention allocations, the question now is whether local authorities will be able to find sources of income or other ways to protect these services should further cuts be introduced, or whether they will have to make even more difficult decisions about the future of their services.

If the Government really wants to see a shift towards early intervention, rather than costly late intervention, there is no doubt it will have to prioritise early help funding to ensure local authorities can maintain these services. The next budget and spending round will be critical in determining how early intervention services are shaped in the future.

By Sam Royston - Policy team

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