Today, the Government has published their progress report on the Start for Life Vision and plans to extend Family Hubs, with a number of related publications for local authority areas, including:

  • A progress report on the best start for life vision written in consultation with Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, in her capacity as the Government’s early years advisor. The announcement confirmed the extension of Dame Andrea’s term as the Government’s early years adviser.
  • Confirmation that all 75 eligible Local Authorities (LAs) have successfully signed up to the £300 million Family Hubs and Start for Life programme announced in the autumn budget.
  • Confirmation of the announcement in the autumn budget of £10 million investment between April 2023 and March 2025 in innovative Start for Life workforce pilots in approximately 5 areas. These pilots will test ideas on how best to support the workforce to give babies the best start in life.
  • The names of 14 LAs who have been selected as trailblazer sites. These trailblazers will receive extra funding and will lead the way and support other local authorities to improve services that are offered to families, so that these can be rolled out more widely across the country.
  • Guidance for LAs on publishing their ‘Start for Life Offers’. Every local area is required to develop and make clearly accessible a coherent and joined-up Start for Life offer that sets out the support that families may need. Broadly, support will fall into 2 categories:
    • universal services – health visiting is listed as one of six essential services
    • additional, targeted or specialist services and support.
  • The funding also supports the establishing of local parent and carer panels, which will ensure that families are able to influence the improvement of Start for Life offers.
  • The names of the final five LAs enrolled on DfE’s £12 million Family Hubs Transformation Fund, building on the seven LAs that were announced last May.
  • Separately, Government is also confirming the final five areas to receive investment from the Family Hubs Transformation Fund, which will transition services which used to operate under the Sure Start banner over to the Family Hub model. This will enable a further 12 local authorities across England to open family hubs by March 2024.

Key documents published on 9 February 2023:

Other related guidance published in August 2022:


As part of a series of podcasts on the first 1001 days of life, Alison Morton, speaks to Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE on the importance of health visiting. Published today, this podcast was recorded in 2021 following the announcement of the government’s investment in the ‘Start for Life’ vision.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director, says:

“The iHV is a non-political charity working with all parties to raise the profile of the first 1001 days and the vital support that health visitors provide to families. With such a weight of evidence to support investment in the earliest years of life, it was good to be able to celebrate some investment in the Start for Life vision with Dame Andrea Leadsom on this podcast. This represents a significant shift in policy direction for babies, young children and families, and recognition of the importance of laying strong foundations for health and wellbeing in the earliest years.

“There is still so much more that needs to be done to translate the Start for Life Vision into reality – we look forward to this work being built upon by the new government. In particular, to translate this vision into reality for all children, much-needed investment in workforce will be needed to end the current postcode lottery of support for families and bring stability to the health visiting profession. We look forward to working with the government on next steps.”


Today, the Government has published the programme guide for the 75 local authority areas that are eligible to receive a share of the £301.75 million funding package for the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme for the period 2022–2025. The guidance sets out the programme’s vision, objectives and key deliverables. It will be of interest to health visitors in England as well as those responsible for commissioning and delivering services. The guide also contains a range of links to evidence sources which will be of interest to those working in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The programme includes details of how the investment in ‘Start for Life’ announced last autumn will be spent.

Eligible local authorities are being encouraged to ‘be ambitious and present plans which take you further towards the vision of a seamless, integrated offer of support for all families delivered through a family hub model, with tailored support available for those who need it most. This is an exciting opportunity to improve the lives of babies, children and families’.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director says:

“This investment in the earliest years of life in 75 selected local authorities is welcomed, and the iHV will be looking to support areas as they design their services, built on the best evidence of ‘what works’.

“We urge the Government to be equally ‘ambitious’ in its next steps and extend this programme of support to all local authorities in England as a national priority.

“The success of this programme will also rest on having sufficient workforce with the right skills to develop and deliver the Start for Life Vision. This will require a demand-driven workforce plan – and, the evidence is clear that we need more health visitors!”

The Government has stated that, ‘this is an exciting opportunity to improve the lives of babies, children and families… [by] working together with delivery partners and families to ensure parents and carers in your area receive the support they need to care for their babies and children’.

The evidence and best practice gathered from this programme will inform the case for future investment and support transformation in the delivery of both family and Start for Life services across the whole of England.