Call for private investors to fund early intervention

Private investment in early intervention could save £40,000 a year on supporting each "chaotic" family, according to a report by wealth manager Barclays Wealth and New Philanthropy Capital.

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Private investment in early intervention could save £40,000 a year on supporting each “chaotic” family, according to a report by wealth manager Barclays Wealth and New Philanthropy Capital.

In a landmark attempt to bring wider private provision to early intervention, the report encourages investment in support for children with behavioural disorders, chaotic families and adult mental health.

It is estimated that targeted support costs £19,500 a year for each family, compared with nearly £60,000 it costs public sector services when early intervention is absent. However, the report authors did not calculate the return investors might expect.

There are 1.3 million young people in the UK with serious behavioural issues, according to the report, which highlighted a case study showing the cost to society of dealing with just one individual could exceed £148,000 by the time they are 16.

Supporting the same person over the same period with intensive family support, counselling and therapy would cost just £32,000.

The report also recognised adult mental health as a prime area for investment. At present, there are 1.3 million people with mental health problems who rely on benefits, even though many want to return to work. It said specialist employment support for these individuals has been shown to save up to £2.50 for every £1 invested.

Barclays Wealth’s findings followed news that prime minister David Cameron has made a commitment to setting up the Early Intervention Foundation proposed in Graham Allen’s report on early intervention in children’s services.

Parts of the children’s services sector welcomed Cameron’s announcement, but warned against an over-reliance on the private sector.

“We look forward to seeing how we can work effectively with the Early Intervention Foundation and make a significant contribution to achieving positive outcomes for families,” said Family Action chief executive Helen Dent.

“However, we continue to believe that ‘troubled’ families shouldn’t be reliant on the whims of the City and markets. The taxpayer should continue to be one of the most important investors in early intervention services. Public finance must remain part of the equation when dealing with problem families.”

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