Analysis of Department for Education figures by children’s charity Barnardo’s found that annual expenditure on children’s centres fell from £1.2bn in 2010/11, to £740m in 2014/15 – a drop of 35 per cent.
Barnardo’s, which runs around 190 children’s centres, is calling on the new government to act immediately to stop the dramatic decrease in funding.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said cuts to early intervention services will end up costing government more in the long-term.
“Cuts to basic early support now will only result in increased costs in the future,” he said.
“Without the vital support of children’s centres to the poorest children and families, we are simply neglecting the seeds of more costly problems later in the shape of troubled families, crime, substance abuse and unemployment.
“Investing in the UK’s children’s centres simply makes sense, not only are we investing in our children, we are investing in our future.”
Helen Berresford, director of external affairs at 4Children, which runs around 100 children’s centres, said the figures are cause for concern.
“Reducing early support for children is a false economy,” she said.
“Evidence shows that intervening early can stop problems from escalating and help prevent families falling into crisis.
“The existing network of children’s centres can transform the way we support families today – tried, trusted and at the heart of communities, centres can bring professionals and services together and act as a one-stop-shop for families in need of help.
“We should be looking at how we get the most out of our children’s centres – helping them to fulfil their huge potential.
“Stronger families mean a stronger economy and investing in them makes social and economic sense.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said the government wants to see a strong network of children's centres in place across the country.
“According to 4Children, record numbers of children are now using these centres,” he said.
"Councils have a duty to ensure sufficient children’s centres to meet local need and to ensure they consult before any significant changes are made, including taking into account the views of local families and communities.
"Local councils are best placed to decide on provision in their communities.
“Since 2010 we have increased funding for early intervention to £2.4bn to help them meet local need.”