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The case for early intervention to support levelling up and Covid recovery

Spending Review 2021


16 Jul 2021

This briefing sets out how the government can invest in effective early intervention to achieve its ambitions to ‘level up’ and to support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic through this year's Spending Review.




Enabling children to thrive in the wake of the pandemic, particularly in places of the country that have been left behind, is a crucial part of action on both levelling up and Covid recovery.

We know that investing in high-quality, evidence-informed early intervention can lead to better outcomes from public spending. The evidence shows that this investment will lead to large pay-offs, for children and families themselves, for local communities and for the wider economy.

This briefing sets out how the government can do this.

The challenge

Supporting all children to reach their potential, regardless of where in the country they grow up, or the family circumstances they are born into, is key to the government achieving its aim for levelling up: that everyone should have the same opportunities to get on in life. 

At the same time, the Spending Review provides a crucial opportunity to build back better following the pandemic, by addressing increasing inequalities and ensuring that children are at the heart of investment in the Covid recovery. This will ensure that this generation of children do not have to live with the knock-on effects of the pandemic for the rest of their lives.

Making smart investments

Schools, police, the NHS and local government all have a crucial role to play in delivering services and additional support, and national government has a role to play in coordinating action to ensure the most vulnerable families are supported.

Action to tackle child poverty is also vital, as services alone cannot support vulnerable and struggling families.

For each of these critical areas, our briefing sets out priorities for action and examples of interventions and approaches with evidence of improving outcomes for children and families.

Six priorities for early intervention to support levelling up
1. Intensive home visiting between birth and age 2
2. Supporting children's early language development
3. Supporting first-time parents 
4. Parenting support
5. School-based social and emotional learning programmes
6. Secondary school mental health and behavioural interventions