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Government spending round omits early years

05 September 2019

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On Tuesday 4th September,  the government announced its spending round for 2020-2021. This was a one year settlement, ahead of a multi-year spending review which will take place next year.

The spending round included substantial increases in funding for public services: “the fastest planned real growth in day-to-day departmental spending in 15 years.”

We were incredibly disappointed to see no explicit mention of the importance of pregnancy and early childhood in the spending round. Just over a month ago, in the Prevention Green Paper, Government wrote “We believe that everybody has the right to a solid foundation on which to build their health. Nowhere is this clearer than the early years.” This message does not seem to have reached the Treasury.

The section in the Spending Review document relating to the Department of Education is focussed specifically on children’s education. There is no reference to DfE’s responsibilities for wider services for pre-school children, such as children’s centres. We fear that early childhood is falling off the government’s agenda.

The Spending Round includes new funding for the NHS and a real terms increase in the public health grant. Although not mentioned in the spending review document, we hope that some of this funding will enable local areas to reverse the decline in health visiting services and to improve universal, targeted and specialised support for families in the early years – including support for parent-infant relationships.

We will be campaigning hard to ensure that next year’s spending review includes the investment required to give every child the best start in life. In the meantime, we urge local authorities and CCGs to use additional funding they receive to bolster importance services that work with families in the first 1001 days.

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