Early years commission publishes manifesto

Early years commission publishes manifesto

The Early Years Commission is a cross-party group, jointly run by the centre-left Fabian Society and centre-right Centre for Social Justice. Its stated purpose is to “develop a policy agenda which is built on the widely accepted evidence about the critical importance of a child’s early years.” The intention is to use the wealth of existing research to build policies that can attract bipartisan support and become a part of the government’s agenda whoever is in power, hopefully avoiding the sector continuing to be used as a political football.

The Commission has now published its first manifesto, calling for all levels of government to come together with a goal of making the UK the best country to be born into by 2030. Its core priorities are to:

  • Make young children society’s top priority by delivering public service innovation locally and nationally with a commitment to lessen child poverty;
  • Support parents to make their homes a nurturing environment with time away from work, financial stability to focus on their child, and the community and professional assistance they need;
  • Put our young children at the heart of their community and public services with invest

The manifesto’s analysis is wide-ranging but touches on many of the themes that have been repeatedly highlighted by those working in the early years sector, including the paucity of funding and chronically low pay. The report calls for a complete overhaul of the funding system, but also for specific funds to be made available to support training and development within the sector. The report does not detail what a new funding settlement would look like however, instead calling for a “zero-based review”. This may reflect a belief that existing funds are not being applied in the most effective way and that the answer to the sector’s financial struggles is not simply more money.

It is clear that the Commission intends its work to be a long-term project and that it is prepared to think carefully about its approach. As such, serious political attention to the early years sector is certainly welcome, especially if short term electioneering and point scoring can be kept to a minimum.

The report can be read on the Fabian Society website here: https://fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Early-Years-Commission-Cross-Party-Manifesto.pdf

And on the Centre for Social Justice website here: https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/library/early-years-manifesto