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Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) internal evaluations and (b) external research the Treasury has (i) undertaken and (ii) commissioned on the effects of investment in early intervention with families as opposed to public spending on the consequences of not providing such early intervention; and if he will make a statement. (139015)

The Treasury undertakes and commissions a wide range of evaluations. Most recently, the Children and Young People’s Review conducted an extensive examination of the existing literature on spending on early intervention activity and preventative support, consulting practitioners, academics and commissioners of services. The review’s public Call for Evidence attracted more than a 100 responses, details can be found at:

The conclusions of this evidence and analysis were set out in “Aiming High for Children: Supporting Families” and “Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families”.

“Aiming High for Children: Supporting Families” highlights evidence from the United States that prevention and early intervention can represent a cost-effective response by public services. The conclusions of the review place a new emphasis on building children’s resilience through improving attainment in education, good social and emotional skills and positive parenting. This analysis will be supported by significant investment over the next spending period in universal services, such as schools, health services and Sure Start children’s centres. These all have a crucial role to play in focusing support on prevention and early intervention. New investment includes:

£340 million additional funding for Sure Start children’s centres, child care and early years by 2010-11;

building on the Every Child a Reader scheme to help narrow attainment gaps by providing an average of 10 hours, one to one teacher-led tuition for 300,000 under-attaining pupils a year in English and 300,000 in Maths by 2010-11;

funding so that by 2010-11 schools can offer two hours of free extended activities a week during term time, with two weeks a year of part-time holiday provision for children eligible for free school meals;

faster roll-out to all schools of the successful Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme;

intensive support for up to 30,000 parents who most need parenting support, focusing in particular on fathers; and

a commitment from the Department of Health to examine how health services can best support parents and families in the early years of children’s lives, by expanding the scope and duration of the current health-led parenting pilots, subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families” acknowledged that despite an improvement in the outcomes for disabled children, they are less likely to achieve as much in a range of areas as their non-disabled peers. This report sets out policy proposals to encourage more responsive services and early interventions for disabled children and their families, across social services and health to enhance equality and opportunity for disabled children and their families. Improving their educational, social emotional development, and their opportunities for independent living, choice and control, is a key part of this process.

This report announced the following provision:

£280 million over the next three years to fund short breaks for disabled children, meaning an extra 40,000 fortnightly short breaks for severely disabled children and their families to help prevent family breakdown;

£35 million to fund a pilot project to provide accessible child care, promote training, and tackle other barriers to accessing child care;

£19 million for a Transition Support Programme to promote wrap around support, and consolidate person-centred planning at the critical transition to adulthood. This builds on the Government’s commitment to roll-out the successful Early Support Programme which provides intensive, co-ordinated support early in a disabled child’s life;

radical reform in the co-ordination and provision of community equipment and wheelchairs to maximise disabled children’s mobility;

development of a national indicator as part of the suite of public service agreement targets, underpinned by a ‘core offer’ to help disabled young people and their parents understand what support they can get and how to access it across local services; and

specific resources for evaluation and benchmarking good practice on early intervention for disabled children and their families as part of the work of the new Centre for Excellence for Children and Family Services.