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Children: Poverty

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2007

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Budget 2006 announced that the second Comprehensive Spending Review would be informed by a series of policy reviews. One of the reviews announced at the Budget was a joint HM Treasury and Department for Education and Skills policy review of children and young people. A discussion paper setting out the evidence collected to date by this review is published today and is available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House.

The Government’s approach has transformed the life chances of children since 1997. For example, 700,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty in the six years to 2004-05; 98 per cent of three and four year-olds have taken up the national entitlement to free early years education and government action has improved primary and secondary school standards. However, in Support for parents: the best start for children, published at the 2005 Pre-Budget Report, HM Treasury and the Department for Education and Skills identified further steps to be taken to improve the outcomes for children and young people.

The discussion paper, published today, sets out and evaluates the evidence collected to date to inform the review's work to consider how services for children and young people and their families can build on the three principles identified in Support for parents: the best start for children—rights and responsibilities, progressive universalism and prevention—to improve outcomes for children and young people.

Under the umbrella of the children and young people's review, sub-reviews are considering:

what strategy should be adopted over the next 10 years to deliver a step change in youth services and support for young people;

how services for families and children at risk of becoming locked in a cycle of low achievement, high harm and high cost can be reformed to deliver better outcomes; and

how services can provide greater support to families with disabled children to improve their life chances.

The review will report in spring 2007 with recommendations to inform and influence the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.