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Early Intervention

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 19 July 2016

11. If he will commission research on the potential long-term savings to the public purse of greater investment in cross-departmental schemes to promote early intervention; and if he will make a statement. (905954)

The Government recognise the benefits of early intervention to ensure that all children and young people receive the best possible start in life. The Government worked with the hon. Gentleman and others to establish the Early Intervention Foundation. We continue to provide funding to the foundation to develop and share the evidence base in this area. The Government have also invested £770 million in the troubled families programme, which aims to achieve sustained positive outcomes for 400,000 families with multiple complex problems by 2020.

I welcome the new Treasury Front Benchers to their duties. I hope that they will take the opportunity over the summer to reorient the Treasury’s thinking away from late intervention, firefighting and paying excessively to put things right, and consider an early intervention philosophy that allows the Treasury to invest early and make a lot of money. They should look at Big Society Capital and its terms of reference, and consider the possibility of improving the market for social investment bonds. Will the Chief Secretary meet me and colleagues from all parties to discuss those issues?

I am very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss those issues. To be fair to the Government, we introduced social impact bonds and the troubled families programme, which seems to be working. There are good signs in terms of improved school attendance and reduced youth crime and antisocial behaviour. We do recognise the benefits of early intervention, but I am happy to discuss it with him at greater length over the weeks ahead.

I add my congratulations to the Chief Secretary and commend to him last year’s “Building Great Britons” report by the all-party parliamentary group for the first 1,001 critical days, which I chair. The report revealed that the cost of getting it wrong on perinatal mental health and child neglect is some £23 billion. Does he agree that investing in young people at an early stage is every bit as beneficial to the economy as investing in roads and infrastructure? Will he allow the all-party group to give him a presentation on how we can save him and the country a great deal of money and give our children a better future?

I would be interested in seeing such a presentation, whether with the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) or separately—I am happy either way. The Government have already demonstrated a willingness to look at any such case and will respond to the evidence, which I look forward to hearing.