The government spends around £17 billion per year on various family-related issues, according to a new report.
Research from charity the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) reveals that this money goes to “late intervention” cases dealing with child abuse and neglect, mental health, domestic violence and youth unemployment among others. The total is the equivalent of spending £287 for each person in England and Wales, the EIF claims.
The largest areas of government spending in this figure include £5.3 billion on ‘looked after’ children, who are taken into care by local authorities. Each year the government also spends £5.2 billion on domestic violence cases and £2.7 billion in benefits for young people who are not in any form of education, work or job training.
Local authorities account for the biggest expenditures every year according to the EIF report, with as much as £6.4 billion spent on late intervention issues. Meanwhile the NHS spends £3.7 billion and the Department for Work and Pensions spends £2.7 billion.
Dave Hill is President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. He said the results of this report show that the cost of late intervention “is still unacceptably high”. Although the financial cost is very high, the “human cost to children and young people is much greater and can have a lasting impact on generations of families” he declared.
It is vital that the government “invest[s] in early intervention and preventative services before problems become entrenched and reach crisis point” Hill added, but he admitted that this would be “particularly difficult for deprived regions that are often supporting families facing more complex issues and social conditions”. Despite the amount of money it would cost, “doing nothing is not an option – the risks for children and families is too great” he insisted.