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Losing in the long run: Trends in early intervention funding

There are substantial financial and social benefits if we provide the right support to children, young people and parents before problems escalate. There is growing evidence of programmes that make a difference to children and families and prevent more serious and costly problems arising. There is a strong case for public services to be based on the principle of intervening early to prevent problems from escalating.

The 2015 report Cuts that Cost showed that, despite cross-party support, since 2010 there has been a downward trend in the amount of funding from national government to spend locally on early intervention services. In turn, spending locally on these services has shown a worrying fall. This has all come at a time when other sources of funding which underpin preventative and early intervention, such as the public health grant, have been reduced.

What is early intervention?
This report uses a broad definition of early intervention services reflecting the government’s own approach. It has expected local authorities to use their early intervention funding allocation (previously called the Early Intervention Grant) to pay for a range of universal and targeted services, including information and advice for young people, Sure Start children’s centres, teenage pregnancy services, short breaks for families of disabled children, and other support for families. Specific examples of these services are given later on.

This report provides updated analysis of spending on local early intervention services, specifically on children’s centres, family support and youth services, as well as estimates of early intervention funding from national government up to 2019-20. At a time of significant reforms to local government finance, Losing in the long run asks whether further reductions are sustainable and desirable, providing evidence from local councillors, young people and parents about the value of early intervention services from their perspective.