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Early Intervention

Volume 536: debated on Wednesday 30 November 2011

Q6. What plans he has to change the machinery of Government to facilitate the implementation of early intervention policies; and if he will make a statement. (83654)

I lead a Committee of Cabinet Ministers that looks specifically at family issues, including the importance of early intervention, which is central to what the Government are trying to achieve. We believe that if we change the life chances of the least well off, we have a much better chance of genuinely lifting young people out of poverty and keeping them out of poverty. I take a close interest—as do my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in the hon. Gentleman’s work, and in the real difference that he has made in prioritising early intervention in our country.

I thank all three party leaders for their consistent support for early intervention and their generous welcome for my two reports. May I ask the Prime Minister to make early intervention in the lives of babies, children and young people a theme for all Departments in the next comprehensive spending review, so that not only will all children be able to make the best of their life chances, but Government and the taxpayer will be able to reduce the massive costs of failure—including educational underachievement, 120,000 dysfunctional families, summers of discontent, and many, many lifetimes wasted on benefits?

That is a very sensible suggestion. I think that we can look at it in the context of the next spending round, but I do not even want to wait for the next spending round. That is why the family Committee that I lead, and of which the Deputy Prime Minister is a member, is considering how we can make effective action such as intervention in the lives of the 120,000 neediest and most broken families. Government—all the different Departments—spend a huge amount of money on those families, but we are not satisfied that that money has been spent on actually intervening in the lives of those families, and trying to turn them around in order to solve their very real problems. We have a programme for doing that now, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will continue with his very positive work.