Valuing Social Infrastructure
On 19 June, the Early Action Task Force hosted a seminar at the Big Lottery Fund to discuss the Task Force’s new report on Valuing Social Infrastructure. The report, written by Task Force member Caroline Slocock, highlights the importance of social infrastructure for building strong and resilient communities, and demonstrates its inherent link with Early Action. Furthermore, the report highlights several interesting case studies and suggests ways in which social infrastructure could be better funded.
The seminar was well attended by a range of professionals from the public, private and third sectors, all interested in the idea of promoting social infrastructure as a means of building stronger communities. Matt Leach (Local Trust) and Steve Schifferes (City University) gave their thoughts on how to fund social infrastructure through sovereign/social wealth funds, how to foster democratic political support for the idea and how to recognise the structural limitations placed on social infrastructure investment by the wider economic context.
With so many great contributions from participants, we could have carried on the discussion all afternoon. There appears to be a lot of interest in the idea of social infrastructure and there will certainly be further conversations, workshops and collaborative work to push this idea forward as a key policy focus for the Task Force. If you would like to be involved in future work on social infrastructure, get in touch here!
Early Action cuts mean a lifetime cost for today’s youth
The Children’s Commissioner for England’s study, released this month, showed almost half of the entire £8.6bn budget for children’s services in England is spent on 73, 000 children in care. This means that the other half of the budget has to be stretched to the remaining 11.7 million vulnerable children and families.
Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, Richard Watts, reacted to the report, saying it portrays the pressure on councils to make the difficult decision of decreasing Early Action services even though we know this helps to prevent children entering the care system in the first place. The report also showed spending for Early Action within young people’s services, such as Sure Start, has been cut by roughly 60% since 2010.
As a result, there is growing strain on the special schools and care system and the family courts system, and an increasing number of young people are involved in street violence and delinquency. The University of Salford also published a paper this month discussing the impact of austerity cuts to children’s mental health services, which provides further insight into how adverse childhood experiences can later develop into mental health problems if Early Action is not taken.
Better preventative interventions upstream might, however, reduce these children’s acute needs. It would also save money, which could be reinvested into further preventative interventions that can be made more universally available to children within the system. For example, a recent study by Washington University found parent-child interactive therapy can have a positive impact on children and reduce rates of depression. Read more about this here.
A how-to guide to ending homelessness
A recent report by Crisis offers a strategic plan to end homelessness for good. According to the plan, 100,500 social homes must be built every year for the next 15 years for this plan to work.
The plan by Crisis stresses the importance of Early Action to solve homelessness first before tapping into other health and social problems facing the UK population. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government responded to the plan, highlighting the £1.2bn that has been committed to tackling all forms of homelessness. Taking note of Finland’s success with the Housing First model, the government has dedicated £28m to Housing First pilots in three English city regions in an effort to get 1,000 rough sleepers off the streets. This includes new Housing First projects launched in Manchester to help families escaping domestic violence and women offenders into sustainable accommodation.
Housing First is a manifestation of Tertiary Early Action. It sees housing as a basic human right. Providing stable housing paves the way to resolving other health and social problems.
New Housing Secretary James Brokenshire also announced that a rough sleeping strategy will be released in July to outline the government’s plans to end homelessness by 2027. An additional £30m has been allocated to the Rough Sleeping Initiative to provide support to 83 local authorities in England. Read more about their plans here.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our Early Action survey. We really appreciate your time and effort!
The Early Action Task Force