A children’s charity has called on the Government to take ‘urgent action’ to protect vital early years services after research reveals funding in some areas has been dramatically cut.
The research from Barnardo’s found early years services funding has been cut in some areas by almost 50% since 2010.
According to Department for Education figures, children’s centres have had funding cut from £1.2bn to an estimated £0.6bn over the last six years.
As well as calling on Whitehall to provide councils with sufficient funds for these services, the charity is also asking local authorities to look at whether standalone children’s centres are still right for them or whether new approaches could be taken.
Essex council, according to the charity, offers an example of a ‘more innovative approach’ to early years services. The county council and the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group have brought together existing services under the umbrella of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service.
‘We appreciate local authorities are having to cut budgets but it’s vital funding is found to provide essential early support services for families,’ said Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan.
‘If families are helped to tackle issues early on, this reduces the likelihood of problems increasing and leading to more deep seated difficulties in later life.
‘Investing in early intervention and family support services simply makes sense – not only are we investing in our children, we are investing in our future.
‘The Government must prioritise these services and help local authorities ensure they are available to all families.’