The Family Hubs Network has been investigating the funding situation for Family Hubs since the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, working through the various pots and promises. Although much of the funding remains to be allocated, this is what we know so far.
The grand total of funding committed to Family Hubs, between 2020-5, sits in the region of £130 million, testament to changing attitudes within government, and the increasing number of local authorities (LAs), NGOs and MPs united by the Family Hubs vision. As little as two years ago, people would have been unfamiliar with the concept of Family Hubs, whereas they are now treated as a serious policy solution at local and national level.
Some of this £130m has already been distributed or spent, for initiatives such as the Evaluation Innovation Fund’s Scoping Report, and the establishment of a National Centre for Family Hubs, but the vast majority is yet to be used.
The £12m Family Hubs Transformation Fund– for which applications closed on 17th December – is the first pot of money that has been made available explicitly to implement or develop Family Hubs in a local authority (approximately 12 local authorities will receive the funding). However, this money is not a part of the Autumn Budget, but is largely from the Shared Outcomes Fund, a government scheme intended to pilot innovative ways of working in the public sector. £20m has been allocated to Family Hubs from this fund, of which £10m is for the Transformation Fund- the extra £2m (bringing the total to £12m) is an injection of capital funding from the Department for Education’s budget.
The other £10m from the Shared Outcomes Fund is for the expansion of the Growing Up Well project, which seeks to transform digital services to facilitate data sharing and provide easy access for vulnerable families. The Growing Up Well project initially received £1.7m of funding, which it is distributing between five LAs (Lancashire, Bristol City, Salford, Tower Hamlets and Suffolk) while the extra £10m is intended to help both the Department for Education and LAs build capacity as the project develops, seeking replicable and scalable digital solutions.
The government has not revealed how it will distribute the £82m for 75 Family Hubs in the years 2021-4 announced in the Autumn Budget, and the £18m in the year 2024-5. Speaking at an accountability hearing for the Department for Education, Minister for Children and Families Will Quince stated he was “still working through the criteria on how we will allocate that funding” and was “open-minded about whether that is a bidding process or just a funding allocation process”. He suggested the programme would focus on LAs highest on the social deprivation index but caveated that successful LAs would have “a real vision for a family hubs model”.
The 75 successful LAs will not only receive funding for Family Hubs, but for a broader ‘Start for Life’ offer. The whole £300m of early years spending, of which £82m is for Family Hubs, will be dedicated to the successful LAs, allowing them to invest in both service delivery and the services themselves.
The final pot of money is a portion of the £24m Regional Recovery and Building Back Better Fund, which seeks to tackle harms facing vulnerable children, particularly in the wake of Covid-19. £3.2m has been ringfenced for Family Hubs: £1m has been allocated for nine local authorities to share good practice regionally, and £2.2m for 25 LAs to accelerate the opening of Family Hubs in local areas.
More information will be forthcoming in the course of this year, once the 12 LAs who win the Transformation Fund have been announced and implementation is underway. Please check the Funding section of our website for regularly updated information.
In a Prime Minister’s Questions, Miriam Cates MP asked if Johnson could confirm a national rollout of Family Hubs were this first phase to be successful. “If it works”, he confirmed, “we will roll it out across the country.”
Image credit: Christopher Bill