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EIF report

The cost of late intervention in Northern Ireland

Published

3 May 2018

This report provides estimates of how much late intervention spending on children and young people costs the public sector in Northern Ireland annually.

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The report builds on previous reports produced by EIF (20152016) on the costs of late intervention in England and Wales.

The purpose of the report is to provide transparency at a local level on the fiscal consequences of failing to intervene before issues become harder and costlier to resolve. This should help stimulate discussion, cooperation and new approaches to reducing the root causes of social problems.

The report was commissioned by the Early Intervention Transformation Programme (EITP).

Key findings

  • The annual short-run cost to the public sector of late intervention in Northern Ireland is estimated at £536 million per year. This is equivalent to £288 for every Northern Ireland resident, or £1,166 per child.
  • The largest drivers of spend include child protection and safeguarding, domestic violence, and youth economic inactivity. The greatest fiscal impacts are estimated to fall on social services, health, and social security spending.
  • Total cost and cost per head are particularly high in Belfast and Londonderry. This is associated with high levels of deprivation, which was also found to be a key driver of late intervention spending in England and Wales.
  • Over the past six years in Northern Ireland there has been increased pressure on spending due to rises in the number of looked-after children, domestic violence incidents and cases of substance abuse among young people.
  • However, there have been some off-setting trends, with falls in the number of young people who are not in employment education or training (NEET), young people involved in the youth justice service, and young people in mental health treatment.
  • Spending on late intervention in Northern Ireland is roughly the same per head as in England. However, the drivers are different. While reported cases of domestic violence and spending on child protection are lower than in England, there are high levels of youth unemployment and school absenteeism.

About the author

William Teager

Will is a senior economist at EIF.