Counselling sessionAnalysis by the Early Intervention Foundation has found that picking up the pieces from damaging social problems affecting children and young people such as mental health problems, going into care, unemployment and youth crime, costs the Government almost £17bn a year.

Speaking at the NSPCC's flagship 'How safe are our children?' Conference [17 June], EIF chief executive Carey Oppenheim said: "Taking action as soon as possible to tackle problems for children, young people and their families before they become more difficult to reverse is more crucial than ever."

The Foundation calculates 'late intervention' costs the government £16.6bn across the NHS, police, and social services and have set the Conservatives a target to reduce late intervention spend by 10% – £1.7 billion – between now and 2020, through effective early intervention.

Oppenheim added: "We need to make the case for early intervention robust and tangible by looking at the cost of late intervention. A long-term national commitment is needed to shift our public services away from picking up the pieces from the harmful and costly consequences of failure.
"To do this requires a different way of working – one which is built around the wellbeing of children and families rather than separate departments, funding streams and working in silos. We also need to use the best available evidence, focussing resources on support that actually makes a difference.

"Only then can we start to shift resources into earlier and more effective support and ensure progress to our goal of reducing the need for late intervention spending. It's easy to look at the scale of the problem but much harder to look at the scale of the solution. Above all, this requires decisive leadership from the centre and engaging all communities in early intervention."

The Foundation is calling for:
- Greater use of effective early intervention. Use more effective early intervention to reduce the need for, and cost of, late intervention by 10 per cent – £1.7 billion – by 2020.
- The creation of an early intervention investment fund. Create a dedicated fund, drawn from existing spending and private sources, to incentivise high-quality, joined-up early intervention.
- Early intervention as a key theme for the next Budget and Spending Review.
- A move towards longer-term planning for public spending to enable money to be shifted.

To find out more visit www.eif.org.uk/our-supporters/ and join the EI Coalition at #EICoalition.