Covid-19: Education Settings

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Thursday 8th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, how will the Government support further education colleges to continue to provide blended and online learning to students needing to stay at home due to illness, infection or self-isolation when a family member has tested positive? There will clearly still be individual student absences, even when entire bubbles no longer have to isolate. With the additional support needed for students resitting English and maths GCSEs due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, what plans do the Government have to introduce a 16 to 19 pupil premium for disadvantaged students in further education and other settings?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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On disadvantaged students, this is precisely why we have made free school meals available in those settings. There is also a bursary fund that FE college staff distribute. Even in the first lockdown, FE colleges showed themselves to be some of the most adept at adjusting to remote learning. We have made it clear to colleges and schools that they need remote provision for the next academic year.

Children: Care Homes

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Monday 21st June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, there is guidance for local authorities when they are going to place a child in out-of-area care. A placement should always be governed by what is the most appropriate provision for the young person. Many of the facilities in which children are placed, such as Centrepoint and St Basils, are high-quality provision. I will write to the noble Lord in regard to the more specific question he asked about notifying the police authority to which the young person has been moved.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the government proposals for a new regulatory and inspection regime using national minimum standards for 16 and 17 year-olds in unregulated settings intentionally omit any guarantee of care, causing many in the sector to express concern that the proposals establish a dangerous precedent, whereby older children notionally in care receive only a lower level of support. It seems to go against other recent welcome policy developments to extend aspects of care, such as “staying put” and “staying close”. Will the Minister explain this seeming contradiction in policy?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, there is no contradiction in policy here. The local authority’s duty is to place young people of 16 and 17 in the most appropriate accommodation, obviously taking into account their best interests. There are certain individual circumstances that mean that the best placement for a young person—such as a 16 or 17 year-old unaccompanied asylum-seeking child who has perhaps been out of any home or family environment for years—might be in semi-supported accommodation. It is important that there are national standards that Ofsted will inspect against for that type of provision.

Covid-19: Children

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Thursday 17th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, on securing this vitally important debate and on her excellent opening speech. She has clearly demonstrated that, from the early years through to childhood and adolescence, the pandemic has left its mark on disadvantaged young people. I want to focus briefly on three areas: early years, social care and mental health.

It is well documented that the early years are a crucial stage for social mobility. This is when the gap in outcomes between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers first takes hold. Recent polling carried out by the Sutton Trust found that over half of parents of two to four year-olds feel that their child’s physical, social and emotional development has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. To transform prospects for children in all parts of the country, we need to start young, and I believe that early years education should form a central plank of our nation’s education recovery. Above all, we need to see early years provision as an opportunity to provide a great start in life for children, and not just as a way of providing childcare.

Many disadvantaged three and four year-olds are currently locked out of additional government-funded childcare. Bizarrely, they cannot access these vital early years opportunities simply because their parents do not earn enough money. Surely such levelling down is an unintended consequence of policies just not being properly thought through. All children deserve the same opportunity to play, learn and thrive, so it is vital that eligibility be extended to those in low-income households if levelling up is to mean anything. Could the Minister explain this anomaly to me?

Child poverty destroys childhoods and causes irreparable damage to our children’s future health and productivity, but even before the pandemic we were heading in the wrong direction. There can be no progress on the Government’s plans for recovery and levelling up while child poverty continues to rise, and this has a direct impact on children’s social care. Simply put, funding for children’s social care is insufficient to support families and protect children. The independent review of children’s social care published its first report today, setting out the case for change within children’s social care. The report found that the system is weighted against early intervention and family support, that a lack of co-ordination across national government is reflected locally, and that more older children are going into care, partly due to a lack of early intervention and support for families. These things need to change, but this will happen only if local authorities receive sufficient funding from the upcoming spending review. What assurance can the Minister give that children’s social care will be given real priority in the spending review discussions, rather than languishing in its usual Cinderella status?

With councils reporting growing overspends on children’s social care and struggling to fulfil their statutory duty, many have shifted funding from early intervention to late intervention and crisis services. But if prospects are to dramatically improve for children, we need a far greater focus on family support and early intervention before things reach crisis point. After many years of advocating this, I have come to the conclusion that it will happen only if the Government introduce a legal duty on local authorities and statutory safeguarding partners to provide early help to children and families. Could the Minister say what plans the Government have to introduce such a duty?

The same argument holds true for children’s mental health. All the recent evidence suggests that the pandemic has had a serious impact on children’s mental health, including traumatic experiences such as bereavement, social isolation and a breakdown in networks. A YoungMinds survey in January found that 67% of young people with mental health problems believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health, with real concerns about not being able to access much-needed specialist support. But the crisis in young people’s mental health long predates the pandemic. Despite significant government investment in children’s mental health, children and young people have not felt the impact, with waiting times continuing to be long and children often not being seen until after they reach crisis point. We will not break the vicious circle of increasing need and lack of provision until we take a preventive approach. That is why I am supporting calls from charities and campaigning groups in the sector for a national rollout of early support hub models, which would ensure that young people in every area across England can access early support for their mental health on a self-referral basis.

Queen’s Speech

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Wednesday 12th May 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, on her excellent maiden speech.

Like other noble Lords, I must start by registering my profound disappointment that, despite all the promises made, there is nothing of any substance in the gracious Speech on the long-awaited reform of social care. The pandemic has cast a devastating spotlight on this long-neglected, fragile and much underfunded sector. During that time, tens of thousands of care home residents lost their lives. The questions of who pays for social care, how much funding is needed and how it is delivered are not easy but they are urgent. This is the area, above all, where the Prime Minister should be applying his rocket boosters. We owe it to all those who have died and their families to find a workable and sustainable solution.

Turning now to the health and care Bill, the emphasis in the White Paper on greater collaboration and integration between the NHS, local government and other services is to be welcomed. However, to achieve their ambition of improving the health of the nation, the Government must also prioritise action on the wider determinants of health and address the key public policy challenges largely absent from the White Paper. I have already referred to fixing and reforming social care, one of the biggest policy failures in a generation.

Secondly, the NHS and social care workforces have been placed under enormous strain during the pandemic and continue to face chronic staff shortages. The proposals in the White Paper to improve workforce planning are simply inadequate. A fully funded workforce strategy that includes mental health is needed to address staff shortages and boost retention by improving working cultures.

Crucially, the Government must tackle the health inequalities that have been cruelly exposed and exacerbated by Covid-19. If they are serious about their commitment to levelling up, they must address the deep and widening gap in health outcomes between our richest and poorest communities.

There is a real risk of distraction from tackling the most important issue. The NHS has just faced the most difficult year in its history, and the scale of the challenges facing it after Covid is formidable; those challenges include addressing the growing backlog of unmet health- care needs, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, pointed out. Creating new organisations is easier on paper than in practice, and the experience of past reorganisations shows that merging and creating new agencies can cause major disruption.

The proposal to bring the NHS under closer ministerial control will warrant close scrutiny in your Lordships’ House. The Government should articulate clearly why these additional powers are needed and how they will be used, and outline the checks and balances that will be in place to ensure that they are used as intended. I will be watching this area closely.

The Government should also consider how the new legislation can be used to improve the lives of people with a mental illness. Despite a national commitment to parity of esteem, mental health services still struggle to meet demand—a situation that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. To ensure that mental health is given an equal focus in the proposed new system, we need to see three things. First, there should be a legal requirement to have on the unitary integrated care board representation from an NHS trust with responsibility for mental health, alongside representation from other types of trusts. Secondly, the ICSs should be legally required to achieve parity of esteem for mental and physical health in their decision-making and to report publicly on this annually. Thirdly, the NHS’s commitment to mental health should be explicitly included in its triple aim.

I turn briefly to financial exclusion. Although I welcome the focus on skills and education as part of the levelling-up agenda, much more needs to be done to tackle financial exclusion if levelling up is to become a reality and no one is to be left behind. It is deeply disappointing that legislation on protecting access to cash did not feature in the gracious Speech. Despite an overall decline in the use of cash, an estimated 8 million people continue to use and rely on it to budget and make payments. The pandemic has also highlighted the vulnerability of groups that want or need to make cash payments, as they have been affected the most by reduced bank branch opening hours, branch closures and a lower acceptance of cash.

As chair of the former Financial Exclusion Select Committee, I was closely involved in the Liaison Committee’s follow-up report on financial exclusion, which was published last month. It highlighted the importance to financial inclusion of access to cash. Will the Minister provide an update on the Government’s plans to bring forward measures announced in the 2020 Budget to protect cash and set out a clear timetable for such legislation?

Family Policy

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Monday 19th April 2021

(2 years, 12 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness is correct: what has now been renamed the Supporting Families programme has been successful at supporting families with some of the most complex needs. It has shown that they can avoid the need for further statutory services and for some of their children to go into care or the criminal justice system, as a result. There are various cross-government issues which are dealt with and led partly by the Secretary of State for Education, such as the care leavers board, which he chairs jointly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I refer to my interests in the register. Given that the adversarial nature of the family law courts is unhelpful in many cases, and that separating couples often need much earlier help addressing emotional distress and practical issues to encourage effective co-parenting after separation, as well as ensuring that children’s needs remain centre stage, could the Minister say what steps the Government are taking to ensure a closer link with, and easier access to, relationship support in the family justice system?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, as I have outlined, the family justice system currently has a review into these matters, looking at a potentially more investigative approach to family justice. We also hope that the family hubs will give local authorities the option to bring together not just statutory services but the charitable and voluntary sector, which often provides support in the circumstances that the noble Baroness outlines.

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Monday 22nd March 2021

(3 years ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Watson, for securing this debate. I declare an interest as a board member of Social Work England and I thank the various children’s charities for their helpful briefings.

I welcome the decision to ban unregulated placements for all children under the age of 16 but I agree with the vast majority of the sentiments expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Watson and Lord Russell. The regulations represent the absolute bare minimum of what is needed and in that respect are deeply disappointing, most particularly the decision not to include 16 and 17 year-olds.

Since 2013, there has been an 83% increase in the number of teenagers in care living in unregulated accommodation. Media stories have highlighted shocking cases where children as young as 12 were placed in tents, caravans and canal boats due to a shortage of suitable provision. However, the majority of media investigations and serious concerns expressed about looked-after children in unregulated accommodation relate to those aged 16 and 17.

Shockingly, as we have heard, the 2019 investigation by BBC “Newsnight” into “Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes” revealed a 17 year-old young man killed in supported accommodation in 2016. His death exposed the lack of information-sharing between local authorities and the paucity of provision for very vulnerable young people. A young woman reported having to use her coat and blanket as a duvet and being “freezing cold” in supported accommodation. She was moved from a foster home, where she was happy, to accommodation late at night. Her bedroom was downstairs; there were no curtains and no bedsheets. She felt desperate and very alone. Another young woman felt “dumped and alone” in supported accommodation; she became depressed and anxious for the first time. Other young people in her accommodation used drugs and drank alcohol in their rooms; this young woman had never experienced this before and found it all “a massive shock”.

What additional funding, if any, has been made available to local authorities since 2019 in the light of these revelations to help them fulfil their duties under the Children Act 1989 to provide looked-after children with accommodation in their area which meets their needs?

To do the bare minimum is not good enough when making provision for some of the most damaged and vulnerable children in our society, for whom the state has taken on the role of corporate parent. A good corporate parent should act as in the same way as a loving parent would do and should have the same aspirations for that child or young person. The critical question to be asked is therefore: “Would that be good enough for my child?” When looking at these regulations, the short answer is no.

As we have heard, the Children’s Commissioner’s report from Anne Longfield in 2020 was both powerful and truly shocking, exposing children in unregulated accommodation as some of the most forgotten and vulnerable children within the entire care system. Anne Longfield found that a “significant proportion” of unregulated accommodation was of “very poor quality”, and reported children suffering violence and hunger, accommodation which lacked basic facilities—such as cutlery, pans and duvet covers—and children being exposed to criminal and sexual exploitation. Children aged 16 and 17 frequently lived alongside vulnerable young adults, often up to age 25, battling with their own difficulties—including those struggling with homelessness, mental ill-health, addiction or even transitioning from prison back to the community. For too long children have been placed in this inappropriate accommodation as the sector has gone unchecked, with some providers making large profits on running substandard accommodation with little to no support.

My starting point is that the Government should ensure that no child under 16 is placed in unregulated accommodation, regardless of which piece of legislation they are housed under. All settings that house under-18s should be regulated, provide age-appropriate care as well as support, and be inspected by Ofsted. This includes independent and semi-independent settings. I can see no room for half-measures or compromises here.

As we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Watson, in January 2021 the DfE published data on children who have died or been seriously harmed following abuse or neglect within the family or other settings, called serious incident notifications. A freedom of information request revealed that four children aged 16 and 17 died and three children aged 16 and 17 were harmed in semi-independent accommodation between April and September 2020. Will the Minister write to me to provide information on the circumstances in which those four children died and three were harmed? How many serious incident notifications have there been over the last five years in respect of looked-after children in independent and semi-independent provision?

All children, including unaccompanied children seeking asylum and homeless 16 and 17 year-olds, deserve and need both care and support. This should be based not on arbitrary age thresholds, but rather on children’s needs and wishes, including a recognition that children’s needs evolve and change over time. Teenagers in care are six times more likely compared to children under 13 to be living in residential or secure children’s homes, and while residential care is right for some children, it is surely critical that the Government commit to investing in family-based options for teenagers. With the continuing rise of older children coming into care, more options are needed—including foster care—as demand is far outstripping supply, which has resulted in the increased use of unregulated accommodation in past years.

What are the Government doing to ensure that placement decisions, whether foster care or supported accommodation, are based on an assessment of a young person’s needs and wishes, and not solely on the basis of their age? What are the Government doing to ensure that, in outsourcing accommodation provision to the unregulated sector, private providers are aware of and local authorities remain committed to upholding the welfare of all the children they accommodate?

I was very pleased to read last week that the new Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, expressed in unambiguous terms her support for banning unregulated care for 16 and 17 year-olds, adding:

“We have to make sure that all children and young people in care are in a situation where they can flourish, and they can be supported. It’s our absolute top priority.”


I am sure that the new commissioner will be a fearless campaigner on this issue, and I wish her every success.

We know that local authorities are trying to increase capacity in the 16 to 18 sector, and children’s charities are looking to enter or expand in this market. But they cannot compete with the private sector on a cost basis without a proper understanding of the quality standards or the funds to finance it.

We clearly need more voluntary sector and good-quality private sector provision in the market, and the Government need to take action to stimulate the market and ensure that providers adhere to quality standards. Surely the Government need to consider this afresh. There are opportunities to do so over coming months, with the spending review coming up, the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into children’s residential care, and the children’s social care review. The care review will need to address the funding available to local authorities to meet the growing numbers of children entering care, the reasons for the increase and whether care is the most appropriate response to some older children’s needs. The critical backdrop to this review is that councils have experienced major budget cuts since 2010, and in 2018-19 they overspent their budget for children’s social care by some £770 million. A significant programme of investment is urgently needed and could be announced in the spending review.

As things stand, some of the country’s most vulnerable teenagers are being housed in accommodation that is barely fit for human habitation, without the protection, care and support they need to lead happy lives. It is a scandal, and one that should not be allowed to continue for a minute longer.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Monday 16th November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, as I outlined, the UK Government take seriously the input from the United Nations. Children’s rights impact assessments have been devised in accordance with the recommendation in 2016 and are valuable in enabling civil servants—who have also undergone training—to consider children’s rights in policy and legislation. So the recommendation has been enacted, but it will not be put on a statutory basis. We have taken other measures that were advised, such as updating in 2018 the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the Civil Service training on children’s rights that was introduced in England in 2018, to which the Minister has just alluded, was a welcome step but was not mandatory. Can she say how many civil servants have now completed the training and whether it is available in all departments, and is the Department for Education actively monitoring the take-up of the training and its effectiveness?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, the training was one of the recommendations from 2016. I will have to write to the noble Baroness on her specific questions.

Covid-19: Social Mobility

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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My Lords, we know that the early years are a crucial stage for social mobility, with the poorest children already 11 months behind their better-off peers when they start school. Recent work by the Sutton Trust on the impact of Covid has shown that one-third of early years providers in the most disadvantaged areas may have to close within a year, and that almost 70% of settings anticipate operating at a loss over the next six months. Given this, will the Minister say what plans the Government have to introduce a package of support for early years providers in the coming months, including an increase to the early years pupil premium for at least the next year?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, the education sector is made up of a number of different types of providers, and early years providers are businesses, except for the maintained nursery sector. I am delighted to tell the noble Baroness that, yesterday evening, the Government announced that the early years entitlement of £3.6 billion a year will be paid in the autumn term, regardless of the number of disadvantaged 2 year-olds, or 3 and 4 year-olds, who are attending. That is a massive plank of financial support for the sector going forward in what are, unfortunately, uncertain times.

Schools: Online Support for Pupils

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Thursday 18th June 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge [V]
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My Lords, as I have outlined, there will be a plan before the end of term in relation to curriculum expectations going forward. The Government have made available free expert help and have had over 2,000 applications offering free expert help to make Google Classroom or Microsoft Education available to schools. The department has brokered deals with internet providers and has a specific arrangement with BT such that 10,000 children can have access to BT wi-fi hotspots. The department is incredibly concerned and we are working as best as we can within the scientific advice. We want to see all children back in school in September, subject to that scientific advice.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD) [V]
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It has been exposed that at least 700,000 disadvantaged children do not have proper access to computers or the internet access needed to study online at home. While it is good news that BT is offering free internet access for six months, the scheme will reach only about 10,000 families and, crucially, will not help those without devices. Does the Minister agree that we have a moral obligation to ensure that all these disadvantaged children have access to the internet at home, including devices? What further steps will the Government take to tackle this growing social inequity?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge [V]
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My Lords, the Government have also made available school-to-school support through the EdTech innovation programme to help schools that are not necessarily on those platforms. As of 14 June, more than 114,000 devices have been delivered to local authorities and trusts to be distributed to vulnerable children, including care leavers. The Government are concerned, particularly about disadvantaged children, and we are looking at, potentially, a targeted online national tutoring service.

Children and Families: Early Years Interventions

Baroness Tyler of Enfield Excerpts
Thursday 27th February 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Tyler of Enfield Portrait Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester for securing this vital debate and refer to my interests in the register.

It is widely understood and acknowledged these days that what happens during pregnancy and in the early years shapes children’s physical health, language and communication, learning, emotional well-being and ability to form positive relationships. In short, the early years of a child’s life are pivotal to their ability to flourish throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Given the importance of early years, I am sure I am not alone in this Chamber in thinking that improving outcomes in the early years is just about the smartest investment we can make as a society. We still have much to do in ensuring that high-quality early years services are equally accessible to all families, wherever they live.

I make the case for improved childhood interventions on two grounds. First, intervention is crucial to a child’s long-term well-being, which should be a crucial objective of any Government; and, secondly, there is certainly room to improve a system that at the moment is either barely adequate or, in some places, does not even exist.

The evidence is instructive: 4 million children living in poverty; 50,000 children aged nought to five living in households with domestic violence, alcohol or drug dependency and severe mental ill-health; and an attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their better-off peers clearly evident at the age of five when they start school. There is also a wealth of evidence showing that failing children in the early years has devastating and long-lasting consequences. For example, we know that an estimated 220,000 children aged 10 to 15 are unhappy with their life. Children who live in families under financial strain are more likely to be unhappy and to experience symptoms of depression than their better-off peers. As we have already heard, there is a clearly established link between poverty and poor mental health, which manifests itself early on in a child’s life. Where we fail to act early, we fail to equip children with the necessary tools to improve their life chances and social mobility.

Before turning to some specific policy responses, I will say another word about poverty, because it is so important. Child poverty is acting as a key barrier to children’s educational achievement and good health. At just five years old, children from the poorest income groups are twice as likely to be obese as their better-off peers. This is just one example of how poverty can ruin childhoods and cause irreparable damage to society’s future health and productivity. Early years education, childcare health visitors and early help family support services, often provided by the voluntary sector, can boost outcomes for most disadvantaged children, but research shows that take-up among these groups is low. Simply put, those who need these services the most are often missing out. Many families are unaware that the services are available to them.

I very much share the view expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester that one thing we currently lack is an overarching children’s strategy. Happily, this can easily be addressed. It is absolutely crucial to demonstrate joined-up working and leadership within central government to inspire local areas to see early intervention as a shared responsibility. Early intervention needs to be everyone’s business, and we must reflect the complex ways in which various components of children’s well-being interact.

The National Children’s Bureau—last year I stepped down as its president after a seven-year term—has called for a comprehensive cross-government children and young people’s strategy to establish a new vision for childhood and create a binding set of outcomes that all government departments are accountable for delivering. Many programmes to drive these improvements in early years either exist or we know about them, but to make the most of these interventions, we need the sustained, focused and committed efforts of all government departments to address poverty, integration of services, and funding.

Service integration is key. Children’s lives are heavily influenced by many aspects: their family, their neighbourhood, their nursery or school, their GP surgery and so on. These interactions impact on child outcomes in a complex way. Therefore, co-operation and integration between education, social care and health services, and between the voluntary and statutory sectors, is needed, not only to improve outcomes but to narrow inequalities. Of course, this needs to be done in full partnership with children and their families.

I will finish on the issue of funding, which is so important. The last decade has seen the capacity of early years services to work in a preventive way undermined by significant reductions in public spending, with local authority budgets particularly badly affected. We have already heard the statistics: since 2010, cash-strapped councils have had to reduce spending on early intervention by almost 50%. That is a very big figure. The LGA estimates that an investment of at least £3.1 billion per year by the middle of the decade is needed to prevent children’s services from collapsing. The Government have committed just £1 billion per year, to be split between adult and children’s services, so let us hope that there is better news in either the Budget or the spending review. It will be great if the Minister can give some reassurance on that point.

The Government also promised in their manifesto to develop a network of family hubs, but no further detail has been given. With proper funding, they could be a very welcome re-extension of early intervention services back into the communities. Can the Minister give an update on the Government’s plans for family hubs?

Finally, Storing Up Trouble, a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children, of which I am co-chair, found that just a small proportion of local authority resources are being spent at the early, preventive end of the agenda. Virtually all of it at the moment has to go on crisis support. We have already heard today—and so powerfully—how it is crucial to intervene before families reach this crisis point. I am looking forward to the all-party group’s hearings and inquiries in May, which will take a strategic look at spending and identify the interventions on which the Government could best target its investment. I will be delighted if the Minister attends those inquiries and responds to the APPG’s recommendations.