The Government has been urged to ‘reconsider’ its pandemic recovery measures for young people as researchers estimate that the Chancellor has committed to spend only one-tenth of what is needed.
In two separate letters to the Prime Minister, coordinated by Fair Education Alliance and the National Children’s Bureau, and signed by over 240 leaders from across business, education and the charity sectors, campaigners have called on the Government to invest in levelling up and show real ambition for the recovery for children and young people.
While researchers estimate that £13.5bn is needed to help children recover from a year of disruption, isolation and anxiety, the letters’ signatories say that the Chancellor has committed to spend only one-tenth of this amount.
The letters argue that the pandemic has deepened the existing crisis in funding for the education of disadvantaged children.
Alongside extra money for schools to spend on staff development and interventions for pupils, they call for a wider investment in measures to address the impact of COVID-19, such as reversing rising child poverty, reducing waiting times for mental health help for children and young people, and investing in the services that protect children from abuse and neglect.
Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, commented: ‘The calls to action in these letters to the Prime Minster highlight essential issues that cannot go ignored. Business leaders share our view that the economic recovery and future prosperity of the UK rely on having a diverse, skilled and educated workforce, and that development starts with children.
‘The signatories of these letters have shown a commitment to wanting investment in children’s future and we urge the Prime Minister to act before it’s too late.’
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: ‘The pandemic has affected every single child in the country, causing untold disruption to their education, development and welfare.
‘Children with disabilities, those suffering from trauma, and the millions living in poverty have been hit the hardest. Yet the money promised to help their recovery falls far short and sends the message to struggling families that they simply aren’t a priority for the Government.
‘As well as making up lost ground in education, we have to fight for a better deal for our children, one that protects their mental health, secures them adequate support services, and overcomes the devastating effects of poverty. The breadth of organisations calling for government to realise this is too wide-reaching to ignore.’