More money for youth services and “family centers”

A £560m cash injection for youth services and a £500m investment in family and early years support, including a network of ‘family centres’, have been confirmed in today’s spending review.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said his youth services package “is enough to fund up to 300 youth clubs across the country” and the spending review offers more money to childcare providers in children and the training and development of early childhood personnel.

He said the government would invest a further £200million in the Family Support Scheme and provide more than £200million a year to continue the holiday activity and food scheme.

Mr Sunak told the House: ‘The evidence is compelling that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life are the most important… We are responding today with £300million for a Start4Life provides families with high quality parenting programs, perinatal mental health support services and funding to create a network of family centers across the country.

“To improve the quality of childcare, we will pay providers more, with today’s spending review providing an additional £170m by 2024-25. We are confirming £150 million to support the training and development of the entire early years workforce.

The Chancellor said the spending review “also delivers on our commitment to schools”, with an additional £4.7bn by 2024-25, “which, combined with the ambitious plans we announced in the 2019 spending review, will restore funding per pupil to 2010 levels in real terms, equivalent to a cash increase for each pupil over £1,500.

Mr Sunak said that for children with special educational needs and disabilities, “we have more than tripled the amount we are investing to create 30,000 new places in schools”. In addition to the £3.1billion already announced to help education resume, the Chancellor said he was today confirming ‘just under £2billion in new funding’ for schools and colleges, bringing total support to nearly £5billion.

He also announced a surprise cut to the Universal Credit (UC) taper rate, saying it would increase spending for UC claimants by £2billion and mean a single mother of two, working full time at the national minimum wage, would be better off by around £1,200′.

The Autumn Budget and Expenditure Review released after the Chancellor’s speech says the government will ‘maintain the public health subsidy in real terms, enabling local authorities across the country to continue to deliver frontline services such than health visits for children”.

Speaking ahead of the spending review, Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green said the family centers were “a band-aid to a fractured landscape of childcare and services in childhood”.

She added: ‘This so-called commitment rings hollow after 11 years of Tory cuts that have forced the closure of more than a thousand children’s centres, cutting off the early learning that prepares children for life.’

Association of Directors of Children’s Services President Charlotte Ramsden said: Today’s multi-year funding settlement provides vital additional funding for children and families, many of whom continue to feel the effects of the pandemic in their daily lives. Additional funding for the Family Support Program, school places for children with SEND, funding for youth work and the expansion of Family Hubs is recognition of the need for national investment in children and families, especially with regard to earlier help, something that has been lacking in recent years.

“However, any additional funding for local authorities will also need to take into account the rising costs of service delivery and the growing demand that many local authorities are experiencing. However, we hope this is the first step toward a sustainable, long-term funding settlement that fully meets the needs of children and families so they can thrive, not just survive.

She welcomed the announcement of additional funding for the resumption of education, but said it “still does not go far enough to meet the needs of children and young people who have suffered substantial loss. of learning opportunities over the past 18 months and continue to experience disruption in significant numbers.’

Ms Ramsden added: “It is right for the government to recognize the challenges faced by early years providers. Early childhood services are a vital resource for families, but providers have struggled to stay open during the pandemic. This funding is well below what is needed to put the sector on a sustainable footing in the future, but will go some way to supporting training and workforce development, an area that has been considerably neglected. Additionally, we welcome funding for parental support and perinatal mental health through Family Hubs to support the critical early years of children’s lives.

“While it is positive that additional funds have been allocated to develop more school places for children with SEND, this will take time and will only alleviate some of the substantial pressures on the system. We are still awaiting the outcome of the SEND review which must address the systemic challenges we currently face in carrying out our statutory functions.

Early Intervention Foundation chief executive Dr Jo Casebourne called the extra £200million to expand the Family Support Scheme ‘a much-needed injection of cash into a support system for children and families in trouble”.

She said it was crucial that the program “is carefully targeted, focusing on improving the quality of support and developing a better understanding of what support makes a real difference”.

Dr Casebourne said it was important to use the opportunity presented by the expansion of the program “to develop much-needed evidence on what works most effectively to support vulnerable families”.

She added: ‘We still know too little in the UK about how best to reduce the risk of abuse or neglect and there have been too few high quality assessments of the type needed to understand what works. .

“The expansion of the program today is a critical opportunity to change that. If we don’t assess the different ways of delivering the program and then focus on using proven support, we risk coming to the end of the spending review period. and to realize that little has changed for the families this investment is meant to help.

Barnardo’s interim co-CEO Michelle Lee-Izu said: ‘We welcome today’s £500million package for families unveiled in the budget as an important step to help them access more help early. Evidence shows that providing families with appropriate support through our family center on the Isle of Wight saves the taxpayer £1million a year. We run children’s centers and family hubs across the country, and we know they make a vital difference for parents and children struggling with challenges like poverty, mental health and family violence.

“That’s why we’re calling on the government to go even further and ensure there’s a center available for those who need it in every community – to help families with everything from breastfeeding to protection. adolescents against criminal exploitation.”

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