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This 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.

Previous research has shown that children with poor vocabulary skills are twice as likely to be unemployed when they grow up, and over 60% of children in Young Offender Institutions have communication difficulties.

This report is the first time data has been brought together to show how much local areas spend on SLT services. This was previously hidden – there is no publicly available, reliable information about what is being spent, and there is no single body to hold to account for that spending.

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.

Key statistics

spent by councils and clinical commissioning groups on speech and language therapy services in 2018/19
spent on each child in the top 25% of areas
spent on each child in the bottom 25% of areas
of areas in England reported a real-terms decrease in spending between 2016/17 and 2018/19