Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has accused the government of making “totally contradictory statements” about changes to councils’ Early Intervention Grant funding.
In a letter to the education secretary Michael Gove, Mr Twigg said a consultation by the Department for Communities & Local Government showed funding for a scheme to provide free nursery places for disadvantaged two-year-olds was “being switched from existing early intervention budgets”.
Ministers had however told Parliament that the scheme was being funded by “new money” or “extra investment”, Mr Twigg’s letter states.
“The information we have uncovered shows that the government has made completely contradictory statements, and refuses to admit to cuts to the early intervention budget”, he added .
“The education secretary needs to explain these inconsistencies urgently.”
Councils use the EIG, worth £2.3bn in 2012/13, to fund Sure Start children’s centres and other services such as teenage pregnancy programmes and breaks for disabled children.
From next year the grant will lose its title and have slices removed to fund the free nursery places scheme and a new early intervention project to be run by the Department for Education, details of which have not been made public.
The remainder of the funding, which will not be ringfenced, will be transferred to councils’ general budgets.
The department has said its early intervention budget will rise to £2.5bn by 2014/15.
For more details of the changes to early intervention funding, see this week’s LGC.