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

The Government is to offer extra support with a £500 million package to hundreds of thousands of families, but concerns have been raised that it is not enough.

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.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will reveal the new budget on October 27 (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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.”

Background

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.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education Kate Green (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.