ONE of the most interesting reports published this week was from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which showed how beneficial were the SureStart centres that the last Labour government introduced in the poorest areas.

SureStarts were one stop shops which brought early years education, health and family support under one roof, usually a refurbished roof at the centre of an underprivileged community so the building itself acted as a beacon.

The IFS’ study has shown that SureStart’s boosted academic achievement by three grades at GCSEs.

Sadly, SureStarts were one of the most damaging cutbacks of the age of austerity, although in recent times, the Government appears to have realised the error of its ways by introducing Family Hubs and the Start for Life scheme. These, though, are scaled back: they have a budget of £500m over three years, whereas SureStarts were costing an equivalent of £2.5bn today.

That is a massive figure, but the IFS found that a third of it was recouped by savings to the NHS.

Today, we constantly hear how stretched primary schools are but this is because all the other services have been withdrawn and they are having to do the work that organisations like SureStart once did.

Great infrastructure projects are important to bring new jobs, but to tackle our region’s appalling child poverty figures, we have to get at the grassroots of these communities, and SureStart has now been proven to have done that.

Therefore we join with Gordon Brown and other figures like David Blunkett from the last Labour administration in urging Keir Starmer to have the reintroduction of SureStarts as a major part of the party’s manifesto.