Spending on schemes aimed at preventing children from disadvantaged backgrounds from falling into cycles of crime and poverty has more than halved over the last five years, new research has revealed.
Critics said the cuts were a false economy as teenagers would be at greater risk of suffering long-term problems in later life.
Early intervention funding, which enables English councils to provide children’s centres, as well as services for teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, has been cut from £3.2bn in 2010 to £1.4bn in 2015.
Local authorities are braced for a further squeeze on spending in the next financial year.
The scale of the cuts was uncovered by an investigation by the Children’s Society and the National Children's Bureau (NCB) with the website Children and Young People Now.
In a joint report they warned that failure to invest in help today would not only damage young lives but risk leading to far greater costs for taxpayers in the years ahead.
Anna Feuchtwang, the NCB’s chief executive, said: “Before making more cuts that cost government needs to think again. It should work with councils to gain a better understanding of how services have been reconfigured and commit to fund early intervention provision that make a dramatic difference to children’s lives.”
Around 350 youth centres shut between 2011 and 2014 because their funding dried up.Reuse content