Sure Start shows ‘nanny state’ works

The success of Sure Start proves that the “nanny state” works,
children’s minister Margaret Hodge, said last week.

Defending government intervention, she said there had been a 37 per
cent increase in breastfeeding, a 25 per cent cut in smoking, a 47
decrease in children admitted to A&E departments and a 12.6 per
cent boost in library membership in various parts of the country
where Sure Start operated. This showed support for families could
“transform children’s lives”.

Speaking at a debate on the nanny state organised by the Institute
for Public Policy Research, Hodge said: “If we seek equal
opportunity for all, we must logically act to support parenting in
the home. Some may call that the nanny state, but I call it a force
for good.”

She said it was not a question of whether to intrude in family life
but how and when.

However, Clare Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, said that
the nanny state had been replaced by the “therapeutic state”, run
by well-meaning but overbearing caring agencies that undermined
parents’ confidence and made them anxious.

She said that government programmes such as Sure Start meant that,
to access free child care, parents had to bring themselves as well
as their children to the service.

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