City Lit Blog

Postcode lottery for children in need of speech and language therapy

Story added 14th Jun 2019


Spending on speech and language therapy has fallen in many areas of the country and children in need of speech and language therapy are subject to a postcode lottery of provision because of huge disparities across England, according to new research by the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield.

The report shines a light on spending on speech and language therapy services (SLT) for children across the country to help identify where children who need support are falling through the gaps. While nearly one in five children are starting their school lives lacking the expected communication skills, the report reveals a ‘postcode lottery’ of spending, with huge variations across different areas. This risks children waiting months to be seen, or never receiving support at all. 

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, commenting on today’s report, said:
"We should be very concerned that almost one in five children aged five is behind in speech and language development and yet more than half of areas in England have seen a real-terms fall in spending on speech and language therapy in recent years. Those who fail to receive help are at greater risk of falling behind in education, or developing behavioural problems. There are far too many children who have ended up in youth custody, who had speech and language problems at school."

With 40 years’ experience of providing specialist courses and support for adults who stammer or stutter, with a leading team of highly experienced specialist speech and language therapists, City Lit welcomes the spotlight being placed on this important issue.

Corinne Moffatt Santos, Head of City Lit’s Centre for Speech Therapy, said:
"We know that early intervention for stammering is essential in making sure that children get the best start in life. Support during the teenage years in particular  can be limited at a time when stammering is most likely to lead to associated mental health issues such as  social anxiety disorder."

"Inconsistent levels of CCG funding also applies to services for adults who stammer. Some CCGs do not commission a service at all meaning no therapy is available.  Adults who stammer can access high quality therapy at City Lit by enrolling on one of our courses run by our team of expert speech therapists."

 Key findings of the report: 

  • The total reported spend by councils and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) on SLT services in 2018/19 was around £166m, or £10.12 per child. However, there are substantial variations between different regions of the country
  • The top 25% of areas spent at least £16.35 per child, while the bottom 25% of areas spent 58p or less per child.  Amongst children with an identified speech and language need, the top 25% of local authorities spent at least £291.65 per child, with the bottom 25% of local authorities spending £30.94 or less.
  • The North of England has the highest CCG spend per child (£17.61) followed by London (£17.14). The lowest CCG spend per child is in the Midlands & East NHS region (£10.20) followed by the South of England (£13.54).
  • Only 1 in 4 areas (23%) saw a real-terms increase in spend per child between 2016/17 and 2018/19. Nearly 3 in 5 areas (57%) saw a real-terms fall in spend per child.
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of areas saw local authority spend per child decline in real terms while over three quarters (77%) of areas experienced a decline in CCG spend per child in real terms.

 Visit the website for more information

Speech Therapy Courses in London

Speech therapy courses at City Lit provide specialised training for adults who stammer – delivered by a team of highly experienced specialist speech and language therapists.

  •  40 years’ experience of providing specialist courses and support for adults who stammer or stutter, including City Lit Fellow, Ed Balls
  • UK and international centre of excellence with a broad range of courses
  • Daytime intensive courses, evening courses and short workshops available 
  • Well-developed follow-up programme to provide ongoing support
  • Professional training courses for qualified speech and language therapists. 
  • Speech Therapy at City Lit was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2007 in recognition of our innovative and ground-breaking work.