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Labour's record on the under fives: policy, spending and outcomes 1997 - 2010

Stewart, Kitty (2013) Labour's record on the under fives: policy, spending and outcomes 1997 - 2010. CASEpaper (176). Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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When Labour came to power in 1997 it made commitments to reduce poverty and improve children’s health, education and wider life chances. Early childhood was considered central to the strategy, and considerable resources were invested in very young children. This paper examines the main policies introduced affecting children under five, including longer maternity leave, Sure Start Children’s Centres, free early education for all three and four year olds, more affordable and higher quality childcare, and more generous financial support for families with children, both in and out of work. The paper draws on government statistics and evaluations as well as wider evidence from a range of independent sources to examine where increased spending went, and with what impact. Children’s outcomes improved on a range of measures during this period. Child poverty fell from one in three to one in four in households with a youngest child under five. Low birthweight and infant mortality rates (IMR) fell, and Foundation Stage Profile results improved. In all three measures gaps between different social groups narrowed. Research evaluations, where available, point to small but significant effects of particular policies, including Sure Start, the Neighbourhood Nurseries Initiative and the Graduate Leader Fund. However, in the absence of more widespread evidence from evaluations it is difficult to attribute changes in outcomes directly to changes in policy. The paper discusses these challenges and considers a series of ‘tests’ of Labour’s impact, including whether improvements represent a change in a longer-term trend, and, where possible, how outcomes compare in international terms.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H5 - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies > H51 - Government Expenditures and Health
H - Public Economics > H5 - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies > H52 - Government Expenditures and Education
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I28 - Government Policy
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I38 - Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Research centres and groups > Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)
Research centres and groups > Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2014 09:28
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2021 00:47

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