Local authorities have a key role in securing early intervention provision to meet the needs of their communities. To support this, we are increasing the overall funding for early intervention, from £2.2 billion in 2011-12 to £2.5 billion in 2014-15. That funding will enable local authorities to support early intervention provision, as well as funding the early education for two-year-olds from low-income families, which evidence shows is one of the most important types of early intervention.
I am interested in those figures, because I do not think they are quite what they seem. If it is so important to have early intervention, why is the Secretary of State actually taking away more than £1 billion from early intervention in England? Why is he taking 41% in real terms—more than £4.4 million—from my local authority, the London borough of Redbridge?
I am a great fan of the hon. Gentleman; he does distinguished work in this House, so it is rare to see him lapse. I would remind him of two things: we inherited a blasted economic heath as a result of the depredations of the previous Government; and the figures for the amount that we are spending on early intervention rise for every year of this Parliament.
In view of the success of the pupil premium in targeting money for school-age children and on this important issue of early intervention, has the Department given any consideration to a form of nursery premium that would extend the benefits of that to younger children?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right: the pupil premium has been hugely successful in incentivising innovation and trying to ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better. It has also ensured that the balance of funding in education has moved towards disadvantaged children and disadvantaged areas. We are constantly looking at ways to ensure that the innovation and progress that the pupil premium has helped bring about are extended to more children at more ages.
The Secretary of State cites a figure of £2.2 billion for 2011-12, but by that point he had cut £600 million from early intervention in the previous year. I asked him about that in October; since then we have had the local government settlement, which includes a further cut of £49 million to early intervention. Is this not yet another example of how, as the former children’s Minister told the Select Committee last week, children and families are a “declining priority” for this Secretary of State?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point. I remind him that he and his colleagues would have more credibility in discussing public spending if they were to acknowledge the terrible mistakes made by the previous Labour Government that led to the desperate economic situation in which we find ourselves. The figures are—[Interruption.] Silence in class! Spending on early intervention has gone up from £2.2 billion to £2.36 billion to £2.39 billion to £2.51 billion. Even at a time of tremendous economic pressure, spending is increasing. I should have thought that that would be good news in anyone’s language.