Harriet Harman calls for “families” minister and Sure Start for children over five

Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman yesterday called for the government to appoint a Cabinet-level minister for the family and develop a Sure Start-style service for children over five, as part of a renewed focus on families.

Harman, a contender for the Labour deputy leadership, made the calls in a speech to think-tank the New Local Government Network yesterday evening.

She said: “The Sure Start approach is high-quality services, good outreach services, parent networks and community control. The problem is that exactly that is needed for older primary school children and children in their first years of secondary school. But it does not exist.”

Harman said the government should develop such a service, focusing on deprived areas first, as it did with Sure Start.

She said a secretary of state for the family would produce an annual report for parents and liaise with designated lead councillors, who would ensure local services were family-friendly.

Harman also said all government bills should be scrutinised by families to evaluate the impact it would have on them.

However, children’s charity NCH said a minister for the family was not necessary and could lead to unintentional discrimination against children who were not living in families..



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