Muhammed Butt's office issued this press release today:
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council has demanded that an urgent inquiry is opened to determine what has happened to the £150 million that has reportedly been ‘siphoned’ off from the Government's Early Intervention Grant settlement for 2013-14 by the Department for Education.[i]
The huge funding gap represents a shocking 10% of the entire Early Intervention Grant, which was established two years ago to fund projects that prevent vulnerable families from developing further problems by giving them the help and support they need.
In Brent, early intervention projects were allocated just over £15 million through the Grant for 2012-13[ii] with a similar amount expected for 2013-14, so in real terms a cut of 10% would translate into over £1.5 million taken away from schemes designed to help the most vulnerable people in society.
One of the main services the Council currently uses the grant funding for is to run several Early Years Centres in the borough that provide vital child development support to parents, many of whom have no network of friends and family to support them and cannot afford expensive childcare classes. Other beneficiaries of the grant include youth centres and Children’s services.
The news of the cut comes despite a commitment by local Brent MP Sarah Teather, who was recently sacked from her post as Children and Families Minister, who claimed to be championing Early Intervention programmes both in Government and at a local level.
Speaking in a Commons debate in February this year, Teather said, ‘I think that everybody throughout the House agrees on the importance of early intervention….Government Members believe that the best way [to deliver it] is to devolve decisions to the local level.’[iii]
Cllr Butt said: ‘Sarah Teather has broken yet another promise to the most vulnerable people of Brent. It’s vitally important that we find out what’s happened to this funding. This grant was supposed to help crack the cycle of deprivation that traps our residents and give them brighter future. It’s a tragedy that it’s no longer available to them.’
‘If Michael Gove does not step in immediately to restore this money to the fund it was allocated to, he and his Coalition partners are robbing thousands of children of the very future they promised them by setting up this grant.’
Cllr Butt also said that he is dedicated to making sure that no child in the Borough is left behind at a time when impossible choices have to be made due to the highly punitive cuts imposed on local authorities by the Coalition.
Notes: The Government is now also considering withdrawing the £760m promised to local authorities to fund free nursery provision for up to 40% of all two-year-olds by 2014. The Grant is also under significant threat from further deficit reduction cuts and the Government’s plans to revoke the grant’s ‘ring-fenced’ status.[iv]
[i] Reported by Graham Allen MP, 25th October 2012: http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=21245
[ii] £15,113,721: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/early%20intervention%20grant%20determination%202012-13.pdf
[iii] 27rd February 2012, Hansard: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120227/debtext/120227-0001.htm
[iv] Reported by Graham Allen MP, 25th October 2012: http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=21245