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Early Years Family Support

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Conservative, South Northamptonshire 3:51 pm, 16th July 2019

I am grateful for your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I absolutely do understand your point. I know that you are very sympathetic, and I will hurry up.

The second key recommendation I want to mention is that Departments should work together to develop a spending review proposal for a fund that would support local authorities in rolling out best practice and innovation in the delivery of the 1,001 critical days services. Thirdly, Departments should work together to ensure that the successor to the troubled families programme has a specific focus on the 1,001 critical days.

The IMG set out many other recommendations, including investing in maternal and paternal perinatal mental health and ensuring that support is available to address issues in parent-infant relationships. We recommended that the NHS expands access to evidence-based parent-infant psychotherapeutic services within specialist service provision. We also felt that a website should be created to support parents to make informed choices and decisions at key points in their parental journey, including the information that people need about parental leave, childcare support, family-friendly policies and the 1,001 critical days.

Given that breastfeeding boosts a baby’s ability to fight illness and infection and supports emotional bonding in the early months of life, and given that the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe, we also recommended that further action must be taken to continue to focus on reforms that enable and support breastfeeding in England, including the recommendations of the “Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly” review. The IMG made many other recommendations, and I do hope that the Government pick these as soon as possible. One recommendation that I personally made very strongly is that there should be a specific ministerial responsibility for the 1,001 critical days.

As Members may know, I raised the work of the IMG with the Prime Minister during PMQs earlier this month, and I have tabled several written parliamentary questions to ask what progress has been made on addressing the IMG’s recommendations. I truly believe that we are on the threshold of something very exciting for our country—a real opportunity to deliver long-lasting and positive change in our early years family support policy that would make a huge difference to individuals and society as a whole. I call on the Minister to commit that the Government will report back before the House returns from summer recess, and I ask him to make a statement about that response on the Floor of the House as soon as possible after we return, so that we may debate it further.