Alliance responds to IFS analysis of COVID-related education spending

The Early Years Alliance has responded to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, backed by funding from the Nuffield Foundation, showing that £1.3bn, or 30% of education spending related to the pandemic is not new, but has been reallocated from within the existing budget.

The report reveals that of a reported £280 million in spending announced for the early years and families, around 80% of that (£220 million) is accounted for by the holiday activities and food programme for disadvantaged children, with just £5 million going to early education for two- to four-year-olds.

The full report is available here.

Commenting, Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said:

"When the Treasury has been prepared to write blank cheques for businesses throughout the pandemic, the idea that the education recovery can be largely paid for out of existing funding is short-sighted and wildly irresponsible. Under-fives have lived a huge part of their lives under Coronavirus measures, so it is not surprising the early years workforce has observed significant changes in their social and emotional development in particular, with fewer children meeting developmental milestones across the board. 

"The government has already shown it has no understanding of the scale of the problem within the early years, by allocating just a tiny fraction of the overall budget to under-fives, with a significant part of that ringfenced for literacy. With budgets for PVI early years settings already stretched to breaking point, early years educators need new funding now to deliver the targeted interventions the youngest children need to get back on track. Otherwise, the only thing 'ambitious' about this recovery plan will be expecting it to have any real impact on the lives of millions of children that have missed out on the high-quality early education they deserve."