Budget 2021: Ministers reveal £500m package including 75 family hubs - but industry leaders say it’s ‘not enough’
Labour called the package a “smokescreen” for the Conservatives’ “failure” to support families in the past
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a range of investments to give children the “best possible start in life”, during Wednesday’s Budget and Spending Review.
At a glance: 5 key points
- The funding includes around £80 million to create another 75 family hubs in local authorities across England. They are support centres for families to access services in one place
- A further £100 million will go towards supporting the mental health of expectant parents, while £120 million will be invested in other comprehensive family support programmes
- Around 300,000 of the most vulnerable in society will be supported with an extra £200 million to support people through complex issues that could lead to family breakdown
- A recent poll revealed parents felt like they were “drowning” and were “isolated” because of a lack of support during the past 18 months
- Nearly 3,000 providers in the sector have closed since the start of the year, and 16,000 in the last six years
What’s been said
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said critical support is needed for nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, where there have been thousands of recent closures, and it is “frustrating” that they are not part of the proposals.
He told BBC Breakfast: “That tells you we have a crumbling infrastructure, so I come back to this point: it’s no good just having a bit-piece approach to this, it needs a revamp.”
He added: “I hope there’s more coming in the Spending Review, but I do question why would you create another infrastructure of early years support when the existing structure is crumbling around you. And Government knows this is the case.
“So it’s a bitter pill to swallow, to see all of this and yet the existing system is ignored.”
Mr Sunak said: “We know that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life are some of the most important in their development, which is why I’m thrilled that this investment will guarantee that thousands of families across England are given support to lead healthy and happy lives.”
The NSPCC is now calling for additional funding to train and recruit 3,000 health visitors so every new parent can access mental health support in their community.
Kate Green, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “This supposed commitment rings hollow after 11 years of Conservative cuts have forced the closure of over 1,000 children’s centres, cutting off the early learning that sets children up for life.”
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