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Early Intervention

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2009

Q2. What recent discussions he has had with hon. Members on an all-party approach to policy on early intervention. (304964)

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his pioneering work on this issue. Following my meeting with him and parliamentary colleagues, I visited some of the early intervention projects in Nottingham, including in his constituency. I welcome everyone working together on early intervention. There are 50,000 families who need our help, and breaking intergenerational cycles of deprivation requires us all to work consistently on early intervention over the years.

Do the Prime Minister and the other party leaders here today accept that giving our babies, children and young people the social and emotional bedrock that they need through early intervention not only gives them a great start in life but, at a time of financial restraint, will save the taxpayer billions and billions of pounds by reducing the bill for low educational attainment, crime, drink and drug abuse, and lifetimes that are currently wasted on benefits?

I visited Nottingham, as I said, and saw the success of an early intervention programme that had taken a family that was in absolute chaos, and every single member of that family was benefiting from the professional work that had been done to help them. I have seen early intervention in action. We are putting in a programme in all parts of the country. It is complemented by Sure Start, where young people can get the chance, before nursery school age, to get help with learning, and help for their mothers with health and education. If we are going to have early intervention, we must also have Sure Start. I hope all parties in the House will want to maintain the Sure Start programme. There are 3,000 centres—an average of six in each constituency—and it is something that we want to build upon, not destroy.

Does the Prime Minister accept that early intervention work is especially important in addressing the root causes of poverty?

Absolutely: dealing with the root causes of poverty involves helping people to find jobs. That is why we have the new deal—but unfortunately, it is opposed by the Conservative party. Tackling the root causes of poverty means helping people to deal with health problems. That is why we spend money on the health service, instead of calling it a 60-year-old mistake. That is what we are about—helping to deal with the root causes of the problem, by investing in people.