Local authorities have been given details of their allocations of the EIG, which is worth £2.21 billion in 2011/12 and £2.29 billion in 2012/13.
However, announcing the details in a written statement to MPs, education secretary Michael Gove revealed that the EIG would not be ring-fenced. He said, 'The EIG is not ring-fenced, giving local authorities the flexibility to respond to local needs and drive reform, while supporting a focus on early intervention across the age range.'
Local authorities will be able to use the EIG to provide services, including early years, for families according to local need.
Mr Gove said £64m and £223m will be available through the EIG over the next two years so authorities can build capacity and quality.
He also said that there would be £800m from the EIG over four years for short breaks for disabled children and their families. From April, all local authorities will have a new duty to offer a range of short breaks services for families.
Writing in Nursery World, children's minister Sarah Teather sought to reassure the sector by saying there is sufficient funding in the EIG to maintain the network of Sure Start Children's centres. In addition, she said there would be new money for health in early years, provided through DoH budget for health visitors.
Ms Teather said, 'I have seen at first hand the revolutionary work that many centres are doing to reach vulnerable families and we want this to continue and be reflected across the country.
'Local authorities continue to have duties to consult before opening, closing or significantly changing children's centres and to make sure there is sufficient children's centre provision to meet local needs. It is vital we maintain and capitalise on this network, while supporting improvements in quality, focus and efficiency.'