DISADVANTAGED youngsters are set to receive a boost after the Government pledged extra cash to help with their early years care.

Three and four-year-olds from low-income families will benefit from a new £50 million fund to prevent them falling behind before they have even started school.

More than 2,300 children in Hampshire could benefit from the new Early Years Pupil Premium, worth over £300 per pupil. That means Hampshire will receive almost £680,000 in additional funding.

The Early Years Pupil Premium is designed to narrow the attainment gap between young children from low-income families and their peers.

According to research, children from low-income families are estimated to already be 19 months behind more advantaged peers when they start school, so the money is being provided to help fund high quality early education in order to close the gap and improve results later on in life.

Nurseries will have freedom to decide how to use the money to help three and four year olds learn and develop.

That could mean employing more qualified staff or specialists in activities like speech and language to give an extra focus on basic skills.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Every child in Hampshire deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, and this extra funding is a boost to help our youngest children get on in life and succeed. Boys and girls from poorer families have often already fallen nineteen months behind their better off classmates by the time they hang up their coat on the first day of school. Increasing their chances of success has got to be a top priority.”

The Early Years Pupil Premium builds on the Pupil Premium, established in 2011.