Home News New Govt must stop drain in children’s centre funding

New Govt must stop drain in children’s centre funding


Barnardo’s is calling on the new government to act now to stop the life being squeezed out of children’s centres, following new calculations that reveal a dramatic budget decrease of over 35 per cent since 2010

Department for Education figures reveal, during the period 2010/11 to 2014/15, the annual children centres expenditure has decreased sharply from £1.2 billion to an estimated £740 million. Based on returns from local authorities (s251), the evidence is stark: children’s centre funding has been leaking away year after year leading to the closure or merging of hundreds of these lifeline services across England.

A loss on this scale, over the next five years, could see annual funding for children’s centres decline by an average of £92 million per year. The charity urges the new government to take this opportunity to provide more money for local authorities to halt the decline in this vital expenditure to preserve children’s centres for future generations of children and their parents.

Local Authorities have to make tough decisions on how money is allocated when their pots of money have decreased by over 30 percent in some cases. It is increasingly difficult for them to take advantage of the long-term benefits of early engagement with struggling families despite more investment in children’s centres making sound social and financial sense for the future.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Officer, Javed Khan said:

“Cuts to basic early support now will only result in increased costs in the future.  Without the vital support of children centres to the poorest children and families, we are simply neglecting the seeds of more costly problems later in the shape of troubled families, crime, substance abuse and unemployment.

“Investing in the UK’s children’s centres simply makes sense – not only are we investing in our children, we are investing in our future.”

There is a network of over 2,800 stand-alone children’s centres which provide a range of services to support families with children under five. Barnardo’s does support the significant commitment to early education which now amounts to a government promise to fund 30 hours per week per child.

However managing children’s centres in 190 locations across England, the charity is well placed to testify that the additional support they provide for parents of young children is also essential – especially in areas of high need.

Poverty has a huge impact on the life chances of children and young people. Starting from the cradle onwards, poorer children can expect to typically lag up to 15 months behind in their vocabulary than their richer peers. At age seven, they perform far behind their classmates in ability tests.

Poorer children attain fewer good GCSEs and are more likely to be unemployed on leaving education. Once unemployed they face permanent ‘wage scarring’, which means they’ll earn less than their peers later in life too.  So yes, child care is important to working families but this must be provided in addition to, not in place of, other vital services.

Barnardo’s works with the families who struggle daily with the nation’s stubborn poverty problem. The factors driving hardship are complex and vary from family to family and local children’s centres are ideally placed to intervene early and prevent difficult issues becoming far worse. The recent recession, which was followed closely by a rise in the cost of living, hit the poorest particularly hard; a young family on minimum wage, for example, saw energy bills increase by up to 11per cent in one year alone (2013) and childcare costs rise by 77 per cent in a single decade.

Our calls:

Barnardo’s is urging the Government to plug the drain in funding to children’s centres by ensuring local authorities have the funding to prioritise these important services. Additionally it must increase funding for disadvantaged 3 and 4 year-olds and protect existing funding for state schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, such as the Pupil Premium and Free School Meals.


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