Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 5:11 pm, 24th April 2019

I will address most of my remarks to the issue of social care and the challenge we face, but first I want to highlight a real concern that other hon. Members have also expressed. The funding constraints on local government have had a very big impact on preventive services that are designed to stop extra costs being incurred at a later stage through a failure of the system.

I will give one or two examples. The Select Committee on Science and Technology recently conducted an inquiry into the impact of adversity in childhood, looking in particular at trauma, abuse or neglect in early years. We know that if we intervene early and follow the evidence of what is effective in stopping trauma becoming entrenched, we can not only transform lives but save a fortune further down the track.

Dr Johnson said something about the Conservative party being the custodians of careful finance, but we are seeing significant reductions in investment in preventive services, which end up costing the state a fortune further down the line. Too often, children who experience trauma, abuse or neglect in early years and who do not get the support they need end up being excluded from school, and the track through to the criminal justice system is all too real. Educational attainment is, therefore, often lower than it should be, and worklessness often follows. The disinvestment over the past few years in those preventive early years services, supporting parents and so on, has been a very stupid thing to do, because it will cost the state far more in years to come.

When the Chancellor launched the Budget a few weeks ago, it was encouraging to hear him say that he was willing to invest in early intervention where there was evidence of its effectiveness. Well, there is evidence of its effectiveness, so the Chancellor needs to make that investment.