Community Links

early action

The Triple Dividend

The Triple Dividend

 Thriving Lives, costing less, contributing more. 

The first report of the Early Action taskforce launched in the House of Lords in November 2011. 

How do we build a society that prevents problems from occurring rather than one that, as now, copes with the consequences?’ This was the question that the Early Action Task Force set out to consider.

Community Links is a social action charity in east London and early action – building a fence at the top of the cliff rather than running an ambulance at the bottom – has been at the heart of our strategy for 35 years. This approach is frequently voiced in politicians’ speeches but not embedded in public policy. Whilst government spending has been cut over the last year, the rhetoric of preventative approaches has grown. We’ve drawn together a Task Force of experts who share our concerns to consider that paradox and try to understand why common sense is not finding its way into common practice.

Early action is sometimes used as shorthand for services for those under five years old. This report is not just about them. Their needs are very important but forestalling problems, not coping with the consequences, is socially and financially a smart thing to do from cradle to grave. The Task Force proposes that early action should be a fundamental principle shaping the way in which both government and civil society spend their resources and judge their success. Investing wisely and early in social wellbeing yields a triple dividend – thriving lives, costing less, contributing more. In this, their first report, the Task Force put forward a set of ideas and initiatives for developing a community that is ‘ready for everything’ – not one that picks up the pieces and counts the cost.

 You can download the full report or a short summary.

The report has been welcomed by the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP:
"I welcome this report which highlights the importance of early intervention and the important role for Government to play, both at the central and the local level. In a tight fiscal environment it is more critical than ever that we get this right, which is why today’s report from the Community Links Early Action Task Force is helpful.

"There are many barriers that can stand in the way of effective implementation, including silos within central and local government and difficulties in committing to spending when savings are long term. We are trying to overcome these barriers through the creation of the Social Justice Cabinet Committee, piloting innovative funding mechanisms and seeking out ways to better direct funding to deal with the causes rather than the consequences of social breakdown. This report is an important contribution to the debate and I will be taking a close look at these ideas with colleagues."

And by Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee:
“Early action not only improves children’s life chances but can reduce costs to the taxpayer in the long term. However, at a time when budgets are being cut it is more important than ever that money is spent in a way that provides best value for money. So I particularly welcome this report’s focus on tackling the barriers that can stand in the way of effective intervention, and I will be considering what the implications are for our work on the Public Accounts Committee.”

Do please join the conversation over the next six months – the sooner the better – and help us with more of the answer. Please email David Robinson or find out how else you can get involved