William Eichler 04 June 2019

Sure Start had ‘major benefits’ for disadvantaged children, think tank says

Sure Start had ‘major benefits’ for disadvantaged children, think tank says   image

The twenty-year-old childcare programme has had major health benefits for children in poorer neighbourhoods, a new analysis reveals.

Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that Sure Start ‘significantly reduced’ hospitalisations among children by the time they finished primary school.

The think tank estimates that by age 11 greater Sure Start coverage (one more centre per thousand children aged 0–4) prevents around 5,500 hospitalisations per year.

A reduction in infection-related hospitalisations of young children plays a big role in driving these effects, according to IFS. At older ages, the biggest impacts are felt in admissions for injuries.

Sure Start, which was introduced in 1999 but has seen its budget cut by two-thirds to £600m over the last decade, benefits children from disadvantaged backgrounds the most.

While the poorest 30% of areas saw the probability of any hospitalisation fall by 11% at age 10 and 19% at age 11, those in more affluent neighbourhoods saw smaller benefits, IFS found.

Those in the richest 30% of neighbourhoods saw practically no impact at all.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that the reduction in hospitalisations at ages 5–11 saves the NHS approximately £5m – about 0.4% of average annual spending on Sure Start.

However, the think tank’s summary of their findings noted: ‘It is crucial to emphasise that we are considering the financial impacts of only a narrow set of potential outcomes and setting them against the total cost of Sure Start.

‘Further research is needed (and some is already under way) to determine whether the programme has had other effects – for example, on academic and behavioural outcomes and on the demand for social care.’

Responding to the report, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: 'As this report shows, children’s centres can provide a lifeline for children, parents and carers, offering an incredibly important service in the local community.

'This could be anything from advice for parents on physical and mental health, caring for a new-born, or simply a place for children to enjoy free-play and interact with one another.

'While many councils have adapted well to the funding pressures and changed how they provide children’s centre services, in particular to target those communities most in need of support, there is a growing sense that councils have done all they can within ever tightening budgets.

'It is inevitable that without new investment from government in children’s services, councils will face the difficult but unavoidable decision of having to cut or close early help services such as children’s centres.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Children in Care

Essex County Council
£30906 - £42254 per annum + + Free on site parking & Benefits Package
Social Worker - Children in CarePermanent Full Time£30,906 to £42,254 per annum plus free on site parkingLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Experienced Social Worker

Northumberland County Council
£32,029 - £35,934
At Northumberland County Council we are proud of our employees, who are... Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Social Worker

Northumberland County Council
£32,910
We are seeking suitably qualified experienced social workers with at least 2 years frontline Social Work experience who... Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Surveyor

Northumberland County Council
£28,672 - £32,234 per annum
We are looking for an enthusiastic and commercially aware surveyor to join us to undertake a range of interesting and challenging work. Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Senior Programme Officer (Transport)

Northumberland County Council
£32,910 - £36,922
As a Senior Programme Officer for strategic transport, you will play a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of transport policy for... Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue