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Spending Review needs joint bid to focus on vulnerable children

The House of Lords Public Services Committee has urged a joint funding bid in the next government Spending Review to address the causes of child vulnerability.

The Department for Education, Department for Health and Social Care and Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government should work together on a joint bid for funding in the next Government Spending Review to tackle a lack of coordination of children’s policy nationally and locally.

Baroness Armstrong, Chair of the Committee, said: “The lack of a joined-up national strategy for vulnerable children and their families undermines various departments’ policies and affects the ability of services and agencies to address people’s overlapping needs.

“For vulnerable children this means poorer outcomes in education, health and employment and greater risk of contact with the criminal justice system,” she added.

The House of Lords Public Services Committee has written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay to urge a joint funding bid and states that there should be a strategy for the national roll out of Family Hubs.

The hubs enable families and young people to access help with a range of problems and are the best way to better integrate agencies dealing with vulnerable children and to support early intervention services, the Committee believes.

Investing in early support by schools, the voluntary sector, NHS mental health and addiction services, police and council-funded family services could cut save money further down the line as late intervention and crisis services are estimated at more than £16 billion in 2018–19.

However, the committee warns that expanding the Family Hubs scheme will only be effective if delivered jointly by the government’s health, education and communities departments with Treasury support.

“The next government Spending Review is a unique opportunity to put forward a convincing case for a joint approach to early intervention across education, the NHS, children’s social care, police and the voluntary sector, with Family Hubs at its heart,” concluded Baroness Armstrong.

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