Less than sure about Sure Start

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Evidence has been dribbling in that Sure Start is not merely failing to help but is actually hindering the most vulnerable families in deprived areas.

This is a difficult one, and Lisa Harker is correct to say that it is too early to make any pronouncements on the scheme’s relative success or failure. However, Tim Worstall is also correct to point this out:

Wondrous. It’s all so difficult to measure that we’ll never know so we’d better keep spending money on it.

Thanks for that Lisa.

The problem with this scheme is that it is a classic case of national government trying to do local government’s job. Lisa Harker is keen to emphasise how each local Sure Start is profoundly different from the next, but why are national funds being spent on a scheme that is essentially uncoordinated?

Wouldn’t it be better to give local government the clout to be able to set up its own schemes (or not) and leave them to evaluate each scheme on its merits? A bit of Darwinian evolution can’t do us any harm here, and local circumstances demand local solutions.

The alternative is that the government will eventually come up with a one-size-fits-all “best practice” which is all but guaranteed to fail as it will inevitably be too inflexible, bound up by targets and red tape and crucially exist to serve the Man in the Ministry not the families on the ground.

This is an area that national government simply cannot succeed, and it shouldn’t even try.

1 thought on “Less than sure about Sure Start

  1. Quite right. Here in Oxfordshire we had an established network of ‘Family Centres’ which have similar objectives to Sure Start but with better established community links. As a result of Sure Start we had to spend huge amounts of time and effort sorting out new structures, bids and red tape which could have been spent on providing services if they’d just passported the cash.

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