Last reviewed 25 November 2021

A House of Lords committee has urged the Government to restore its funding of early years services to 2010 levels to support children and families.

A new report published by the House of Lords Public Services Committee has found that the post-2010 Government cuts have left vulnerable children at risk of serious harm, particularly those living in the most deprived areas.

According to the report, Children in crisis: the role of public services in overcoming child vulnerability, cuts to early years and youth support have resulted in reduced life chances for more than a million vulnerable children in England, bigger bills for taxpayers and more pressure on social services.

The lack of investment has been felt disproportionately in the most deprived areas of England with the highest levels of child poverty. Walsall, which has some of the highest levels of deprivation anywhere in the country, saw spending on services fall by 81% between 2010 and 2019. Meanwhile, spending on early intervention children’s services in Surrey, which has much lower levels of poverty, fell by 10% over the same period.

The committee welcomed the Government’s recent pledge in the Spending Review to spend £492 million on early help services over the next three years but said this would not be enough to compensate for a decade of cuts. It is now calling on the Government to return to the higher levels of investment and to urgently set out a national cross-Government funded strategy with a plan for a nationwide roll-out of Family Hubs at its heart.

Baroness Armstrong, chair of the Committee, said:

“We face a crisis in child vulnerability which needs urgent action. Too often public services can’t help children before it’s too late. Too many children fall through the gaps, go into care, are excluded from school or end up in prison — all of which costs the public purse more in the long run.

“We’re pleased that the Government is supporting some areas to develop Family Hubs but it now needs to commit to a national roll-out, with the most deprived communities given priority, to help vulnerable children and their parents. Effective early intervention services could reduce the role of the state in family life by supporting parents to meet their children's needs.

“The Government talks a lot about ‘levelling up’ so to start with it should restore funding for early intervention to 2010 levels and ministers must match their stated ambition on child vulnerability with urgent action to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.”

The full report is available here.