The health impacts of Sure Start

Think tank: Institute for Fiscal Studies

Author(s): Various Authors

August 16, 2021

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at long-lasting health benefits of Sure Start.

New IFS research finds that one of England’s biggest early years programmes delivered long-lasting health benefits for children through their teenage years. Taken together, the savings from reduced hospitalisations up to age 15 offset around 31% of spending on the programme. Established in 1999, Sure Start Children’s Centres brought together health, parenting support, childcare and parental employment services into a one-stop shop for families with children under 5. At its peak in 2010, Sure Start received £1.8 billion a year (a third of overall early years spending), but spending has since fallen by more than two-thirds as many centres have been closed, scaled back or integrated into Family Hubs. The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, builds on previous IFS analysis and provides the first evidence of how this major initiative affected children’s health up to age 15. Focusing on the 2000s (when the programme was expanding), the researchers find that the impact of Sure Start changed as children aged.