Early years staff hit hard by cuts
4th July 2011
At a time when public sector workers are
walking out over cuts to pensions, new research from the National
Children's Bureau (NCB) finds the early years workforce in local
authorities is also being hit by budget cuts.
In a survey of members of NCB's Local Authority
Early Years Network (LAEYN), it was found that the greatest impact
of cuts and loss of ring-fencing to early years budgets would be on
staff development and the knock-on effect this could have on
It was also found that three quarters of
responding Local Authorities are expecting to make redundancies -
with a particular risk to frontline services - and a large majority
of Local Authorities are reducing subsidies for quality improvement
processes and access to training, conferences and advisory
Sue Owen, Director of Practice Improvement at
NCB said: "We know from research that improved outcomes for
children are dependent on the skills and qualifications of the
early years workforce and quality improvement initiatives have been
in place for some time now. So, it is worrying that this vital
aspect of local authority support seems likely to be the first to
be affected by cuts."
Sir Paul Ennals, Chief Executive of the NCB,
said: "Government has repeatedly said that those most vulnerable
would be protected from the worst impact of the cuts. However, we
know that children and young people, one of the most vulnerable
groups in our society, are not being protected and are actually
being hit several times over.
"Cuts to local authorities have led to
significant reductions in play services, family support and youth
services, and welfare reform proposals threaten the income of many
families. These cuts simply add to the dramatic effect that the
economic downturn is already having on their home lives - parents
facing unemployment and increased stress."
However, there were Positive results on
children's centres with 73% of respondents saying they would be
keeping all their Children's Centres open for at least the next
year despite the setbacks they are facing.
Surrey will be retaining its existing network
of children's centres. Phil Osborne, Head of Early Years and
Childcare Service at Surrey Council, said: "The move from the
ring-fenced Sure Start funding to the Early Intervention Grant has
been very tough for all authorities.
"In my authority, political and senior officer
confidence in the impact of the early years and childcare service
has secured a positive financial outcome and we will continue to
prioritise our quality improvement programme and support for
vulnerable families. I am concerned for the impact for the sector
and for children and families in other local authority areas where
there have been more stringent financial allocations."
Following the survey, NCB is launching a new
quality improvement programme, funded by the Department for
Education. The Early Years Peer-to-Peer Support Programme will help
Local Authorities to identify and work towards better outcomes for
children and families and improve leadership and performance in the
early years sector.
A summary of the
results of the survey can be found here.
Notes to Editors
1. The National Children's Bureau surveyed
members of its Local Authority Early Years Network1 between early
February and the end of March 2011. 53 members (35% of local
authorities) completed the survey.
2. The National Children's Bureau's mission is
to advance the well-being of all children and young people across
every aspect of their lives. As the leading national charity which
supports children, young people and families, and those who work
with them, across England and Northern Ireland, we focus on
identifying and communicating high impact, community and
family-centred solutions. We work with organisations from across
the voluntary, statutory and private sectors through our membership
scheme and through the sector-led specialist networks and
partnership programmes that operate under our charitable
3. The Local Authority Early Years Network was
formed in 1995. It is a national forum through which early years
strategic managers in local authorities can share information,
support and good practice. 4. The Early Years Peer-to-Peer Support
Programme is a sector-led project developed by NCB and the Centre
for Excellence and Outcomes in Children's and Young People's
Services (C4EO). For further information contact Priya Plowman email@example.com
For further information please contact the NCB
media team: Clare Quarrell, Jessica Champion or Richard Newson,
0207 843 6044 / 6045 / 6047. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org