Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Investing in our children´s future – Alan Milburn visits Sure Start project in Howdon North Tyneside [September 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 23 September 1999.

The Government’s commitment to providing a better deal for families with children was championed today by the Chief Secretary Alan Milburn as he met staff and users at a new £2.5m Sure Start project being developed in Howdon, North Tyneside.

He commented:

“When we came into office one in three children were living in low income families with a higher number of children growing up in workless households than any other European country. And in North Tyneside 25% of children are in households dependent on income support.

We are determined to address the causes of poverty and provide help where and when it is most needed to give every child the best start in life. As the Prime Minister has said, we aim to abolish child poverty over the next 20 years.

We have put in place a comprehensive package of measures of which the Sure Start programme is an integral part. Its £540 million over the next three years is aimed at providing a co-ordinated approach to services for families with children aged under four.

I am very pleased to be able to see for myself how the Howdon Centre is providing local parents and children with the high quality services and advice they need.”

Howdon is one of 60 areas that have been invited to put forward proposals under the Sure Start programme, including 4 others in the North East. So far 54 areas have been given the go-ahead. The aim is to build up to 250 by the end of the Parliament. It is expected that the Government will be investing in the region of £12 million over the next three years in the North East Sure Start programmes. Sure Start aims to provide new services and reshape existing ones for children from birth to 4, and their families.

Around 15,000 people live in the area covered by the Howdon Centre, of which 810 are under 4. It is a mixed housing area where 21% of households contain a lone parent. There are high levels of teenage pregnancies, low birth weight babies and juvenile crime rates.

The Howdon Sure Start programme will include enhanced health visiting and midwifery services, a community mothers scheme, a drop in centre, family support sessions, pre-school playgroups, day care for babies and children, speech therapy, special needs project and a sensory room.

Mr Milburn will be looking at new multi-sensory equipment designed to encourage children to interact with their suroundings, visiting the creche and talking to staff, parents, local residents and key service providers.