I am very grateful to the right hon. Lady. That is an important clarification, and we must ensure it is out there that maybe it will not just be 75, but that they can make it many more. Let us hope it is 1,300; I am sure she will agree with that. That said, I warmly welcome what I think is the Government’s tacit admission that they got it wrong when they defunded the Sure Start programme, even though, as we all remember, on the eve of the 2010 election, David Cameron promised it would be safe in his hands.
However, we are where we are. Earlier this year, I also co-chaired a cross-party early years commission alongside the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Edward Timpson), who, as a former children’s Minister, is also a member of the “Order of the Babies” and a resident of the ministerial Hotel California. The commission heard from a wide range of stakeholders, including educators, academics and policy professionals. I will take the House through some of the recommendations in the comprehensive report.
First, there should be integration of health and education support for children, ensuring that every child receives the health visitor appointments they are entitled to and a new health visit when the child is 18 months old. Secondly, because too few families have access to essential services, a locally relevant and dedicated parent support service is needed in every community in every area. Thirdly, we should upskill early education practitioners by investing in continuing professional development, so that the workforce stay fit to face the challenges of the future. Those proposals could easily be made reality. I sincerely hope that, as part of the £500 million brought forward in the Budget, the Government will deliver all of what we seek in this debate.
As we take part in this debate, we are mindful that the babies and children themselves will not be listening. They will not be tweeting their agreement or penning letters to our offices. I will spare a moment to mention how, beyond their value on their own terms, reforms to the early years offer can be instrumental in improving the lives of those without children, via the economy.
The Early Intervention Foundation found that the cost of late intervention in 2016-17 was £17 billion, owing to the need for services to help with mental health issues, youth crime and exclusion, including a £5.3 billion spend on looked-after children. Early intervention can offset that cost. The Carolina Approach to Responsive Education programme provided intensive, high-quality childcare for ages 0 to 5 in the United States of America and delivered a 13% return on investment per child each year. It netted IQ gains, higher wages, increased likelihood of home ownership and higher scores on achievement tests.
For the family unit, the economic returns are clear too. As the hon. Member for Richmond Park said, parents in areas with Sure Start local programmes moved into paid work more quickly than those without, reducing the benefits bill to the taxpayer and increasing tax receipts for the Treasury. But that is not the full picture: the economic benefits are often only modelled on specific, targeted interventions, whereas the benefits of intervention fan out across a range of factors, such as reducing the later burden on the public purse— the whole point of early intervention—and greater participation in the economy over many years. As such, it is practically very difficult to model the effects of a web of measures applied at once. So just imagine the results we could achieve if those interventions were provided simultaneously, with wholesale improved outcomes delivered via intensive early years support. Britain’s early years offer has the potential to be much greater than the sum of its parts.
To conclude, I would like to look to the world we are creating as legislators in this place. As we speak, delegates from around the world are discussing the means of preserving the planet and protecting the environment in Glasgow at COP26. It is incredibly important that we limit climate change to an increase of 1.5°. Missing, I believe, is leadership for those who will grow up into these environments. The pursuit of climate justice is in no small part to ensure that our children and their children’s children do not face an uninhabitable, hostile world. As those at COP26 work for the future of the planet, let us, here and now, seize this golden opportunity to help those who will inherit it.