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Lords committee urges ministers to team up to support vulnerable children and families

MINISTERS have been urged to join up to support family services and tackle a lack of coordination of children’s policy nationally and locally.

The House of Lords Public Services Committee has called on Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay to work together on a joint bid for funding in the next government spending review to address the causes of child vulnerability – with the focus on a strategy for the national roll-out of Family Hubs.

Family Hubs (centres where families and young people get help with a range of problems) are the best way to better integrate agencies dealing with vulnerable children and to support early intervention services, the committee believes.

Investing in early support by schools, the voluntary sector, NHS mental health and addiction services, police and council-funded family services could cut the cost to the public purse of late intervention – estimated at more than £16billion in 2018-19 by the London School of Economics.

According to the committee, expanding the Family Hubs scheme will be effective only if delivered jointly by the government’s health, education and communities departments with Treasury support.

Baroness Armstrong, chair of the committee, said:

“The lack of a joined-up national strategy for vulnerable children and their families undermines various departments’ policies and affects the ability of services and agencies to address people’s overlapping needs.

“For vulnerable children, this means poorer outcomes in education, health and employment and greater risk of contact with the criminal justice system – all of which costs the public purse more in the long run.

“The next government spending review is a unique opportunity to put forward a convincing case for a joint approach to early intervention across education, the NHS, children’s social care, police and the voluntary sector with Family Hubs at its heart.”

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