“Home-Start does so much to help build the stronger society we all want to see,” said Steve. “At its heart is a belief that children need a happy and secure childhood that ultimately allows them to achieve their full potential. I don’t believe anyone is born bad or born to fail and I am clear we should never give up on anyone. What you do with a baby from conception to age two is about building the human and emotional capacity of that infant. What you do after the age of two is almost all about trying to undo damage that is already done,” he declared.

Steve spoke of the work being done around attachment theory and complementary programmes such as the Troubled Families programme and of recent experiences visiting Texas to see how early intervention is being used as part of the drive to reduce offending.

The MP described how research had shown that children with speech and language difficulties at an early age are more likely to end up in prison. Statistics issued by the ONS over the last decade had shown that almost 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression and that 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder.

“The Campaign for Social Justice Report called Fractured Families: Why stability matters re-examines how family breakdown continues to plague British society. Despite the fact that the scale of the problem has continued to increase, Government action has been extremely weak. I think it is time for all politicians to acknowledge that family breakdown is an issue which matters to the vast majority of people in this country. We know it’s not the case that all the families Home-Start helps are somehow broken but it is about prevention being better than cure and supporting families – through national policies as well as practical help – is what it’s all about,” he said.