EXCLUSIVE: Frank Field to show Cameron the way he COULD have helped families out of poverty (From Wirral Globe)
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EXCLUSIVE: Frank Field to show Cameron the way he COULD have helped families out of poverty
AFTER his Downing Street-commissioned review on poverty and life chances was all-but ignored by the Prime Minister, Birkenhead’s MP is about to embark on a unique mission in Wirral.
Frank Field has set up his own charity-registered Foundation and is applying for a £12m Government grant to fund a pioneering scheme whose purpose will be to “prevent poor children from becoming poor adults.”
Mr Field’s aim is to introduce a powerful local network of professionals and volunteers who will be supporting, helping and advising young mums and dads from the moment they are referred to hospital by their GP for a 12-week scan.
When he embarked on his review in 2010, the Labour MP had been told by David Cameron that gaining an understanding of the real causes of poverty was vital for his Coalition Government's vision to “make Britain a fairer society in which opportunity is more equal.”
However, in the intervening two years Mr Field has become frustrated with waiting for the PM to act.
So instead he has decided to launch a life chances pilot scheme in Wirral which will be a micro-model of the proposals he was recommending should be introduced across the nation.
The “Foundation Years” network will be based upon Mr Field’s conclusions the UK needs to address the issue of child poverty in a fundamentally different way if it is to make a real change to children’s life chances as adults.
Mr Field’s investigations found overwhelming evidence children’s chances are most influenced by their development in their first five years .
It also noted huge class differences in the range of abilities measurable on their first day at school.
Mr Field said: “For many poor children life’s race is by then already effectively over.
“I believe this initiative - the first of its kind in the world - will be a great opportunity for Birkenhead families.
“Family background, parental education, good parenting and the opportunities for learning and development in those crucial early years matter more to children than money in determining whether their potential is realised in adult life.”
It is expected the pilot scheme will be launched in early-2013, aiming to help an initial 300 mothers in and around Birkenhead.
Mr Field is heading up new group called the Foundation Years Trust whose members include Lord Hunt of Wirral, Fiona Johnstone, the borough’s director of public health, leading GPs, Wirral councillors and charity leaders.
The Trust will be seeking a £12m grant from the Department for Education to allow the pilot scheme to expand.
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said: “I am determined for Wirral Council to be a hot bed for innovation, and it is important for Wirral’s citizens to see that they have a council which, even in the most desperate of times, is one which is intent on finding new ways to improve their lives.
“Here is a project which has the potential to have a transformative effect on life chances, which could also lead to considerable budget savings for the authority in the future.”