The Public Services Committee has published a letter from Baroness Armstrong, Chair of the Public Services Committee on the role of public services in addressing child vulnerability. The letter makes the case for a trial joint bid from DfE, MHCLG and DHSC on vulnerable children for the 2021 Spending Review.
It follows the inquiry into the role of public services in addressing child vulnerability; the letter states that the Committee will publish its report later in the year, possibly after the conclusion of the current public Spending Review.
The letter was addressed to:
- Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson
- Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick
- Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid
- Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay
The letter outlines key themes that have emerged from the evidence so far, including:
- A lack of a joined-up national strategy on vulnerable children and their families is undermining the effectiveness of various departments’ policies on child vulnerability, leading to duplication and diminished effect as different departments work towards their own policy ends rather than a shared goal.
- Lack of integration at the national level is inhibiting the ability of services and agencies to address the overlapping needs of vulnerable children.
- Since 2012, spending on early intervention support has decreased by 35%, while spending on statutory services has risen by 26%. The London School of Economics (LSE) estimated that the cost to the state of late intervention was £16.13 billion in 2018/19.
- The Committee believe that Family Hubs are the best available model to deliver the integration of agencies around the needs of vulnerable children and to support early intervention services. Family Hubs should be expanded by using existing community infrastructure such as children’s centres.
The Committee recommends:
- DfE, MHCLG, DHSC and the Treasury put forward a trial joint bid for a multi-year funding allocation to address the underlying causes of child vulnerability.
- Proposals should include data-sharing arrangements as well as an outcomes and evaluation framework which are shared between the three departments.
- For Family Hubs to be successful, they must be integrated with DHSC and MHCLG, not just within the remit of DfE.