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MS 4 - Family Hubs
Mr. Speaker,

I rise to the floor today to formally introduce Family Hubs to this house. There is a big problem in our country when it comes to unequal opportunities and outcomes, when it comes to health, education, welfare of the being and all of these problems with inequality starts the moment a baby is born. Early development of a baby is so important that it can change the whole life of this baby just in the first couple of years and this government wants to ensure that we are rising to the challenge that we are presented today. So far every single piece of evidence indicates that early intervention and support is vital to reduce family breakdown, vital to strengthen a child’s readiness for school, and in longer term beneficial to the society by preventing social exclusion, regenerating communities and reducing crime. 

Under Family Hubs, Mr. Speaker, we want to offer support to the community with outreach and home visiting, support to families and parents, support for good-quality play, learning and childcare experiences for children, primary and community healthcare and advice about child health and development and family health, support for people with special needs, including help getting access to specialised services. These form the core services of the Family Hubs, Mr. Speaker. 

And inside the home, Family Hubs will be there to offer support to enable parents to strengthen the bond with their children, help them ensure their child has the best start in life, and provide good foundations for a lifetime of growth. Family Hubs  programmes will need to make arrangements with providers of early years services and help in the public sector, private sector, and community sector. For example, GPs, midwives, childcare, churches, family support networks, marriage counsellors  and voluntary providers, to make sure parents-to-be receive introductory information about the programme and the services available. They must be locally run, locally rooted, and locally sensitive.Mr.Speaker, these are just some examples to solidify understanding of this program. The Department will publish the guideline for the programs as soon as possible but the basics of the Family Hubs programs is that they will be formed in most deprived communities in Britain.  will be local run programs, rooted in local need and serving, in terms of geographical location ,  small areas, perhaps one to two miles in radius in urban places), so people can walk or push the pram to the services, though rural areas will tend to be larger. The catchment area must make sense to the local community. The services must be easy to reach for all families, so the area must take account of local transport. Some communities may cross over the boundary of a district not on the list for the targeted regions but the majority of the people who will get services must be within a targeted area. 

Mr.Speaker, we have appropriated and promised at least 630 million in three years, this will under our estimates will reach around 200 thousand children in Britain’s most deprived areas and this is only just the beginning for this program. Where required and if successful, we will focus more investment and reach more families.  The reason why we are doing this program based on area instead of individual families is to reduce stigma, bring people together to help every child and help  communities across the country, 

Mr. Speaker, our communities are our strongest asset in improving early years for every child.   They are working hard to do well and we are here to make sure to provide the help and support they need.
Mr. Speaker,

I thank the Honourable Lady for her statement to the House today. Of course, we haven't been informed anything in the House today that we had not already known, so what I am about to say may appear somewhat repetitive to Members across the House - although it is still important that it is said. 

This is a decent start the government has made in tackling inequalities across our society. Research has made it increasingly clear we need to intervene early if we are to most effectively reduce inequality and get better economic returns. That follows the principle - the funds the government has committed today will see less family breakdown, less health inequality and a better quality of life for so many of the most vulnerable people up and down the country. 

To that end Madam Speaker I look forward to seeing what the government outlines further with their Family Hub proposals.

However, Madam Speaker, the government is offering that - a decent start. We need to be honest that this is not a panacea. This won't end health inequality. This alone won't promote the interests of every child across Britain. Its a decent start, and I fear the government has immediately made it an end.

We need a full on strategy to combat health inequality and wider inequality - to reverse the damage this government made in the past 10 years. To up test scores. To reduce family breakdown, divorce and teenage pregnancy. To help create a happier, more prosperous Britain. Despite repeated questioning in the House, I still remain in doubt that the government lacks that plan.

The government must commit to expanding this programme. At present, it is limited. It must intervene earlier - my recommendation would be at pregnant, as Labour suggested when we outlined a 'strong start' scheme to provide nutrition and parenting advice to pregnant women in the most vulnerable years. And we know that while the priority has to be early intervention, the government cannot just cut and run as it has proposed today, especially as we know inequality scars children even should they prosper in later life. We must ensure we are repeatedly checking in on those children in later life, from cradle to grave, and tackling problems at their very roots - not tackling them and footing the bill to the taxpayer when they fester in our prisons, our health service or on our dole queues. 

But its early days Mr. Speaker, and the government has revealed very little. The opposition is eager to see more of these plans when they are outlined, and as always I remain ready to commend the government where it is right, and to critique it where it is wrong.

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