Tuesday 6 January 2009

Early bird, or quackery?

Graham Allen has a knack of turning any story going into one about "early intervention".

Drugs and crime problems? Early intervention. Rubbish school results? Early intervention. Not enough English players in the Premiership? Early... you get the picture.

The term means blitzing state intervention to young mums and children to try and break the cycle of deprivation.

His devotion to what is a good cause is admirable, but it means it was no surprise when he suggested to me earlier that the Government could tackle the economic downturn by investing in, you know what.

He wasn't holding his breath on it being in the next fiscal stimulus package though, so instead he's cooking up a way of paying for it for free.

The basic concept is this – early intervention would mean you save money in the future because you’re not spending on things like lowering teen pregnancy and crime etc.

So councils investing in such policies should be able to do so with money borrowed (that increasingly ugly word) against future savings – so technically no new money is needed.

The Nottingham North MP apparently has a group of top financiers (an even more ugly word) working on the detail.

It sounds risky and dubious to me, but I'd be intrigued to discover just how they think it will work.

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