Allen review recommends early intervention body to promote best practice

Nineteen of the most effective early intervention programmes should be supported and expanded, with a new body created to promote effective practice, a report published today (19 January) has said.

The interim findings of the early intervention review, led by Labour MP Graham Allen, also recommend the creation of 15 “local early intervention places” to spearhead the development of practices. These areas would be supported by a newly created Early Intervention Foundation.

Allen makes a total of 34 recommendations in the report, stating there is no need for new legislation or immediate additional public expenditure for them to be implemented.

He said provision of projects across England and Wales is inconsistent and co-ordinated support from across the political spectrum is necessary to achieve results.

“The provision of successful evidence-based early intervention programmes remains persistently patchy, and dogged by institutional and financial obstacles.

“In consequence, there remains an overwhelming bias in favour of existing policies of late intervention at a time when social problems are well-established – even though these policies are known to be expensive and of limited success.

“Strong leadership by all political parties is required to overcome this bias and achieve a cultural shift to early intervention.”

The report has been hailed as a “landmark guide” on how to reverse the deterioration in children’s wellbeing by the Social Research Unit.

Unit co-director Michael Little said: “In the past decade there have been considerable increases in investments in children’s services but a continued deterioration in child wellbeing.

“In these straitened economic times we have to be smarter about how we respond to children’s needs.”

“As Allen’s review makes clear, an investment in evidence-based intervention programmes, such as family nurse partnerships for the children of teenage mums, will not only lead to better outcomes for mother and child but also produce a significant return on the financial investment.”

Sally Copley, UK head of policy at Save the Children, said: “This is an extremely important moment for children living in poverty up and down the country as Graham Allen’s review sets out what is best practice in the field of family and parenting programmes.

“We know from our own experience in running our Families and Schools Together pilots in areas such as London, Manchester, Scotland and Wales that they dramatically transform the life chances of children from the poorest backgrounds and help close the shocking educational achievement gap between rich and poor families.

“But as well as this review championing what works best, it is now crucial that the government identifies how these programmes will be funded to ensure children from poorer backgrounds are no longer disadvantaged.”

Allen was chosen to chair the Independent Review of Early Intervention last July by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Since then a new early intervention grant was announced by the coalition government in last October’s comprehensive spending review.

The grant will be worth £2,212m in 2011/12, 10.9 per cent lower than the aggregate of previous grants that make it up.

The second phase of Allen’s review will focus on the need to attract greater external investment into early intervention by developing new funding methods.