Research from Birkbeck has just confirmed the findings of an earlier evaluation of Sure Start: it is actively harming the most deprived families:
The government's flagship scheme to improve the lives of deprived families could be doing more harm than good, researchers warned today. While the £3bn Sure Start programme is benefiting some poor families, the most deprived families did worse in areas covered by the scheme, according to the study.Let’s hope the government hastily revises its plans to quadruple the number of Sure Start schemes to 3,500 over the next 4 years, rather than insisting that they are “successfully helping the most vulnerable children and families”.
The research warned that the adverse effects of the scheme "might have greater consequences for society than the beneficial effects" because the poorest families account disproportionately for social problems such as crime and school disruption.
The study, by Birbeck College, University of London, and the national Sure Start evaluation team, found the scheme, which offers services to more than 660,000 children in England, was setting back the behaviour and development of young children in the most deprived households.