FOI release

Funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres

How Sure Start centres are funded, how much they receive and how these funds can be used.



  • Date requested: 22 January 2013
  • Date responded: 11 February 2013


How and under what/whose authority Sure Start Children’s Centres are funded; the amount/s of such funding; through what channels they are funded; and under what government criteria/ground rules are such funds legally permitted to be used/disbursed?


The department recognises that there’s an on-going cost associated with children’s centres provision, and has therefore made sure that there is sufficient funding within the Early Intervention Grant (EIG) to maintain adequate provision. The EIG is an unringfenced funding stream that is paid to local authorities under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003. It replaced a number of centrally directed grants supporting services for children, young people and families. The EIG was created as part of the Spending Review 2010 and the only condition of grant is that it is spent lawfully. The total amount of funding in the EIG for 2012 to 2013 is £2,365 million.

Local authorities have the freedom to determine how to fund their networks of children’s centres to best meet local needs and priorities and statutory duties. Sufficient children’s centre provision is a statutory duty on local authorities under section 5A of the Childcare Act 2006, as amended by section 198 of the Apprenticeships, Skills Children and Learning Act 2009.

Local authorities are required to report expenditure (regardless of the funding source). Section 251 returns – which report local authorities’ budgets and expenditure – show that £1.1 billion was spent on children’s centres in 2011 to 2012. Information about Section 251 budget returns for LA planned spend in 2012 to 2013 and the Section 251 archive of previous years is available online.

The statutory guidance underpinning Sure Start Children’s Centres is available online.

From 2013 to 2014, the EIG will form part of the new local government business rates retention scheme.

Published 16 September 2013