Treasury asked to stump up £10m for 'emotional bedrock' strategy

Get them while they're young, Allen urges
Get them while they're young, Allen urges

By Alex Stevenson

The government is being asked to provide £10 million to back a programme which would ensure young children are given the "social and emotional bedrock" needed to become healthy adults.

The plan, by Labour MP Graham Allen, demands that ministers match £10 million raised from private sources, entrepreneurial foundations and ethical funds.

His final report, published today, calls on the government to provide the cash to fund an Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) which would coordinate and promote the best programmes helping to end "cycles of dysfunction".

He hopes to secure cross-party support for the initiative, which will require decades of commitment from politicians to succeed.

"£10 million is not even paperclip money for most departments," he told

The backbencher admitted he had encountered obstructions from some figures in Whitehall.

"Yes, there've been people in the civil service who've fought their corner. I wouldn't expect anything else," he said.

"What I'm trying to bring to the party is another string to the bow. Instead of looking at late intervention, let's look at early intervention which is cheaper and more effective."

The proposed EIF would provide a "gold standard" for programmes like the family nurse partnership, which provides young mothers with intensive parenting training, and the social and emotional aspects of learning (Seal) programme at primary schools.

It would be funded from the interest earned on the £20 million capital.

"If you're going to change an intergenerational cycle of dysfunction and failure, you've got to take ten, 20, 30 years," he added.

"If you have a government coming in to power of a political complexion that ditches all the hard work, you're back to square one."

Mr Allen has secured vocal support from all three of the main party leaders in Whitehall. Backing from the prime minister has come with a proviso, however - it is the Treasury which will have to confirm whether the funding is available or not.

Mr Allen published his interim report in January, when he argued that children from deprived backgrounds stand a much better chance of doing better for their own children if they receive intensive development in their early years.

The proposals would require government to ensure that all "babies, children and young people... have the social and emotional bedrock essential for their future development and their ability to make effective life choices" through evidence-based programmes.

It would also force the Department of Education to include regular and purposeful assessments of children aged zero to five to help spot and correct "dysfunction" early.


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