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Bright Blue has responded to the range of social policy announcements in the PM’s life chances speech today.

Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:

“The Prime Minister is right to highlight the growing evidence that shows the strength and diversity of an individual’s social networks has a significant impact on life chances. People who have relationships with people from different neighbourhoods, ethnic backgrounds and employment are less likely to live in poverty. Of course family stability and educational attainment are vital, and the PM is right to focus on boosting these, but Government could be more ambitious on ensuring adults and children can access public services where they can forge relationships with people from different socio-economic backgrounds.

“There is now robust evidence showing that attendance at quality pre-school education has lasting impact on children’s educational attainment, particularly for those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The Government should not invest in extending the Early Years Free Entitlement to 30 hours per week from 15 hours per week for working parents with three and four years olds. Instead, it should spend that money on boosting the quality of staffing in formal childcare settings. And Child Benefit should be conditional on all parents attending quality pre-school education through the Early Years Free Entitlement.

“Alongside pre-school education, the quality of parenting can boost children’s life chances. But the parenting programmes with a solid evidence base are expensive. The priority should be ensuring the most disadvantaged parents can access and sustain participation in these life-changing programmes. In government trials of CANparent so far, the amount that can be received through vouchers for such parents has been inadequate”

Bright Blue recently published a paper entitled Reducing poverty by promoting more diverse social networks. It included the following four policy recommendations:

    1. The receipt of Child Benefit should be conditional upon all parents eligible for the Early Years Free Entitlement when their children are between the ages of three and four (from aged two for the most disadvantaged parents) enrolling their children in quality pre-school education.
    2. Sure Start Children’s Centres should deliver key services, such as birth registration and English language classes.
    3. OFSTED should take into account in their inspections of these institutions whether the social composition of governing bodies and advisory boards reflects that of local communities.
    4. Individual Sure Start Children’s Centres should: collect standardised, socio-demographic data on participating families; and receive a financial reward for increasing the participation of disadvantaged people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and a financial penalty for failing to do so.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further media enquiries, please contact our Communications Manager of Bright Blue, Laura Round, on laura@brightblue.org.uk or 07543759844.