Funding for early intervention to be slashed by 71 per cent, report warns

Funding for early intervention services for children is expected to face cuts of up to 71 per cent, according to a new report.

The ‘Losing in the long run’ report has been published by the charities Action for Children, National Children's Bureau and The Children's Society and warns that large reductions in funding will leave children and families without the early support needed to stop problems ’spiralling out of control’.

According to the charities, funding, which was £3.2 billion in 2010, is expected to fall to as low as £1 billion by the end of this Parliament in 2020. The report questions if the continued cuts are sustainable, as many councillors are unsure if they will be able to keep services open.

The funding covers support services such as children’s centres, teenage pregnancy support, short breaks for disabled children, information and advice for young people and family support.

A survey of more than 500 local authority councillors found that 59 per cent are concerned that services will be reduced due to funding constraints, despite the fact that 87 per cent believe early intervention is a high priority for their local community.

New plans to allow councils to raise revenue through local business rates, but the charities have warned that this will not be enough to support these early intervention services and prevent them from declining.

Kate Mulley, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: "Governments have hacked away at the budget for early help, and we are set to see further reductions, which is simply short-sighted. Intervening when a crisis occurs instead of working at an early stage to prevent it from happening, has a devastating cost both in social and financial terms.

"The government has committed to improving children's life chances, in particular, giving the most disadvantaged children the start they need. This report raises questions about how this objective will be achieved and whether local authorities will have the capacity to invest in services for children, young people and parents.

"We are calling on government to prioritise the services children need to help build a better future."

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau said: "There is widespread support for stepping in to help children and families at an early stage - this approach improves children's lives and saves money in the long term. Unfortunately, in practice early intervention services simply have the rug pulled from under their feet - with government providing only a fraction of the funding it has in previous years.

"Before making further cuts we urge the government to consider the long term decline in how we support these services and in turn the severe consequences it has for the children and families that rely on them."