In response to today’s comprehensive spending review Peter Grigg, the chief executive of leading family support organisation Home-Start UK, expressed his disappointment in the lack of support for the youngest and most vulnerable in society.

The pandemic continues to expose babies and young children to stress, trauma and adversity which, if not addressed, could have a significant and long term impact on their wellbeing and development.

The Babies in Lockdown[1] report by Home-Start UK, the Parent-Infant Foundation and Best Beginnings showed the huge impact that the COVID pandemic has had on children in the earliest years, and the need for focused recovery for these children.  

Almost 7 in 10 (68%) parents felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child. Many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents were harder hit by the pandemic.

This is backed up by a recent report from Ofsted[2] which found that Children hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic are regressing in basic skills and learning, and highlighted concerns that falling referrals to social care teams might mean families are not getting the help they need and leaves children at increased risk of neglect, exploitation or abuse.

Peter Grigg said:

“This has been a year like no other, and there is are tough times ahead for families and the country. That is why it was disappointing not to see a greater focus on helping families and children in the early years in the Spending Review. Investment in policies like the Baby Boost or Parent Infant Premium – ideas set out in our Babies in Lockdown report and which have cross party support – would have made a huge difference. This lack of investment is a blow to the life chances of many children. Families are running on empty and they need to be at the heart of our recovery. We’re hopeful that there will be future opportunities to make the case for longer term investment”.

[1] Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation - Babies in Lockdown report: listening to parents to build back better (2020)

[2] OFSTED COVID-19 series: briefing on early years, October 2020