It is common sense that intervening early to stop problems developing has to be the best way of preventing bigger and more expensive problems. The Coalition Government is keen to emphasise the immense potential in combining a reduction in central prescription with a stronger focus on what works for different localities to produce better results. Investing in early intervention – acting more strategically and targeting investment early, ensuring the maximum resources go to frontline services – demands strong local leadership at a time when budgets are under pressure. But it is essential if we are to have the greatest impact and secure better results downstream for children, young people and families.
The new Early Intervention Grant (EIG) is an important plank of support to local leaders to make those choices. A number of existing centrally directed grants to support services for children, young people and families are ending. In their place, the EIG will provide a substantial new funding stream for early intervention and preventative services. The new grant is not ring-fenced, bringing a significant extension of local flexibility and greater freedom at local level, to respond to local needs and drive reform, while supporting a focus on early intervention in the early years and up through the age range, and to pool and align funding where that enables local authorities and their partners to target disadvantage and achieve better results.
£2212 million (2011-12) and £2297 million (2012-13) is being allocated to local authorities in England. This can fund universal programmes and activities available to all children, young people and families as well as specialist services where intensive support is needed.
The Government has made clear that the most effective use of this money is for local authorities to determine. Subject to that local decision making, the EIG can support a full range of services for children, young people and families. We know from research that there are key programmes, like Sure Start children’s centres or and intensive family interventions for families with multiple problems, that can make a difference and prevent bigger problems further down the line.
A full list is available in the Early Intervention Grant technical note
The former centrally directed funding streams are ending, so that local authorities have more flexibility to use funds creatively and effectively to meet local needs. The Government expects local authorities to use the new funding in support of a wide range of services for children, young people and families, including
Local authorities now have greater freedom and flexibility in how they spend the money they receive from central government. They have been freed from unnecessary bureaucracy and intrusive Whitehall performance targets. Local authorities will have a stronger role in commissioning services and only providing services themselves as a last resort. Underpinning this, they will want to ensure that resources are targeted carefully to ensure that those children, young people and families who need it most receive extra support.
No. local authorities have told us that they should have greater flexibility in how they spend their allocations. We have ensured there is sufficient money in the EIG to retain the network of Sure Start children’s centres, accessible to all but identifying and supporting families in greatest need. Local authorities continue to have duties under the Childcare Act 2006 to consult before opening, closing or significantly changing children’s centres and to secure sufficient children’s centres provision to meet local need, so far as is reasonably practicable. 4,200 health visitors, working alongside outreach and family support workers, will enable stronger links with local health services.
Going forward, we want local authorities to be more transparent about what they are spending on children's centres so they can be held to account locally. Greater local transparency of data, with payment by results, will increase local accountability for Sure Start funding and ensure funding goes to services which have proven effectiveness.
The grant has been allocated using a combination of two of the Department’s existing formulae – one for Early Years services and a second one for youth services. We propose to work with stakeholders, including local authorities, to consider the distribution approach in time to feed into decisions about allocations for 2013-14. A full list of indicative allocations for 2011-12 and 2012-13 is available to download.
No, local authorities have various statutory duties they are required to fulfil and they are unaffected by the introduction of the Early Intervention Grant.