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Early Years Support

Volume 710: debated on Monday 14 March 2022

1. What steps he is taking to help ensure that families are able to access adequate early years support. (906033)

It is wonderful that the hon. Lady has returned to the theme of families; I remember the passion she showed in her time as shadow Minister for Children and Families.

The Government are investing £300 million to transform family help services in 75 local authorities. That money includes funding for family hubs, the supporting families programme and start for life services.

The Labour Government built more than 3,600 Sure Start centres, which provided a vital lifeline for many families throughout the country. This Government proceeded to close 1,000 Sure Start centres and then undertook a review of the early years sector that found that every parent and child should have access to early years support. Frankly, I could have told the Government that without undertaking a review. The review was published more than a year ago and I have not yet seen any plans for or details on having a family hub in every community in the country. When will the Secretary of State’s Department publish details of the family hubs in every community in the country? Or is this another instance of the Government paying lip service to the early years?

What the hon. Lady omitted to say was that Sure Start was a good policy that was badly implemented under the Labour Government. They focused on bricks and mortar rather than on actually reaching and helping the families we will reach with the family hubs. We will announce very shortly the half of England’s local authorities that will have evidence-led, multi-agency family hubs that will reach exactly those families—exactly like I saw when I visited the family hub in Harlow with the Chair of the Education Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon).