Next week's comprehensive spending review (CSR) will include a £7 billion "fairness premium" to help children from poorer families as they go through nursery, school and university, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.
The package will include free pre-school education for two-year-olds from disadvantaged households, a "pupil premium" providing extra cash while they are at school and a "student premium" to help them in higher education.
Mr Clegg said the moves will make the October 20 CSR - which is expected to include £83 billion of cuts in state spending - into "an investment package for future fairness".
Speaking at a junior school in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Mr Clegg said that the way the Government tackles the deficit will be "a test of the character of the coalition".
Ministers have a "moral obligation" to shelter the next generation from the consequences of the debt run up in recent years, he said. But he argued that the CSR also provides an opportunity to boost fairness, social mobility and life chances for the poorest.
The new cash is expected to support children from the poorest 20 per cent of families - those who are entitled to free school meals.