We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Early Years Family Support

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:24 pm on 16th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central 4:24 pm, 16th July 2019

Indeed, and he is definitely top of the list by a long shot—I mean no disrespect to the others, but he has been very good.

The second thing we need to do is break down the barriers to joined-up services and commissioning. Key to that, as we have seen in Manchester, is the value of place-based, integrated services working together. In Greater Manchester, the early years delivery model acts as the core of the service. Every child, from pre-birth to the age of five, is seen at least eight, if not nine, times, with fully integrated service delivery, and intervention, support and advice can be put in place at any stage in the child’s upbringing. It is already paying real dividends. The innovative work we are doing with the BBC on communication and language and other work is starting to have real results, especially for the most in need. It cannot just be at a local level—it needs to be joined up with Whitehall too, but that is not the answer. It is about place-based, integrated services.

The third and final area—just to conclude, because I know lots of people want to speak—is workforce development. A real challenge in this space is to make sure we have a workforce right across the piece—from health visitors to midwives, but also outreach workers and those who work in childcare, social services, health, schools and education—who are valued and paid well for a job that is the most important job they could do and who also have the ongoing career training and development to understand the root causes of poor child development and the impacts that can have, so that the whole body of people who ever come into contact with a family and child are all working with the same agenda, vision and understanding of what needs to happen. That is not a whizzy initiative or a press release; it is the hard yards and the real focus on developing a whole workforce around families that will really get us the step change we want. That is why we are setting up the Greater Manchester early years workforce academy, and we hope this will be a beacon for the rest of the country to look at best practice.

In conclusion, as I have said a number of times, this is not rocket science. We know what we need to do, but it needs proper funding, leadership and drive across Government through the country into places, homes and families. As insurers do when they are looking at insurance policies, we could all probably work out who the families most likely to need help are—we can get names, not just numbers attached to these issues—and there really is no excuse for us not to do it. It is immoral for us not to try to help break the cycle of deprivation and really tackle those early and important 1,001 critical days. I want to thank the Minister and particularly the right hon. Member for South Northamptonshire for the leadership they have both shown, and I hope they will continue to have the opportunity to do so in government over the coming months.