Early intervention ‘would save £2bn by 2020’

6 May 15

A coalition of more than 50 charities, think-tanks and public finance experts has called for the next government to prioritise investment in early intervention programmes in a bid to unlock savings of nearly £2bn by 2020.

The group, which included CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman, Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield and NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, has issued an open letter calling on early intervention spending to be prioritised to both help children and boost the economy.

Early intervention programmes are focused on taking action as soon as possible to help children, young people and families who are suffering from neglect and deprivation to avoid picking up the costs later in life. They are mainly aimed at people aged up to 18, with high-profile examples including Sure Start children’s centres and primary schools that improve children’s social and emotional skills.

Early Intervention Foundation chief executive Carey Oppenheim, who also signed the today’s letter, said such schemes were crucial amid the tight public spending constraints planned in the next parliament.

The EIF has previously estimated almost £17bn a year is spent on late interventions, and forecast that 10% of this spending could be saved by 2020 with more effective and earlier services.

Oppenheim said politicians needed to be told that ‘prioritising and investing in early intervention will not only save money but will give a generation of children, young people and their families the best chance of thriving’.

She added: ‘The main political parties have rightly emphasised the need for early intervention and prevention in their manifestos and elsewhere. This indicates a serious cross-party commitment to shifting spending from late to early, which should be a key priority for whatever government is elected or formed next week.

‘A long-term national commitment is needed to shift our public services away from picking up the pieces from the harmful and costly consequences of failure. To do this requires a different way of working – one which is built around the wellbeing of children and families rather than separate departments, funding streams and working in silos. We also need to use the best available evidence, focusing resources on support that actually makes a difference.’

Making prevention and early intervention a key theme of the next spending review was highlighted as a key priority.

This should include shifting funding from areas of inefficient spending into a dedicated and ring-fenced Early Intervention Investment Fund across the next parliament, in a bid to unlock the 10% savings by the end of the decade.

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