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Posted: 01 March 2016

Early intervention funding faces 70% cut

Last year we published 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 £1.5 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.

We now have new data about funding to local authorities that allows us to say more about what support for early intervention services looks like in coming years. Worryingly this shows that Early Intervention funding is expected to fall further, to just £900 million by 2020 – a reduction of 70% over the course of the decade.

Our interactive map, below, shows how these changes in funding break down for each local authority in England. These changes are presented in real terms and all amounts are given in 2016 prices. Click on the local authority to see information for that area. 

You can also find out more in our latest report, Losing in the long run: Trends in early intervention funding.

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 £958 million in real terms in 2015-16, compared to 2010-11, which represents a 31% reduction. This amounts to a total spending cut of more than £2.4 billion over six years.

Early intervention is a high priority for councilors, with 87% of them believing that services which intervene early are a high priority for their local authority.  However, 59% of councillors believe that the reduction in central Government funding will mean a reduction in early intervention services in their local authority in coming years.

What needs to be done?

If the Government really wants to see a shift towards early intervention, rather than costly late intervention, there is no doubt it needs to do more to prioritise early intervention funding to ensure local authorities can continue to offer these services.

We call on central Government to:

  • Commit to annual ‘early intervention’ top ups for local authorities after the Revenue Support Grant has been phased out. This amount should be decided according to local need.
  • Review current reporting mechanisms so there is a better understanding of how much local authorities are spending on early intervention services.

At the same time, we call on local authorities to prioritise resources raised through business rate growth for early intervention services, using local needs assessments and open consultation with people living in the area.

By Sam Royston - Policy team
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Read more

'Never too early, never too late? Reflections on the government’s approach to early intervention'

Posted: 16 September 2011