COUNCILLORS have been assured that all £49 million of funding for a major health project in Bradford will be spent - despite prior delays to the scheme.

Better Start Bradford is a 10 year scheme designed to improve the lives of young families in some of Bradford’s most deprived areas.

Funding was provided by the Big Lottery Fund, and the project began in 2014. It was to specifically look at ways to improve the health of young children and new mothers, and would focus on the Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton wards of the city.

At a meeting of the Bradford East Area Committee last week, members were given an update on the scheme now that it has reached its half way point.

Better Start Bradford was set up to try and test a number of different projects, and then analyse their impact.

The successful projects would then be replicated around the District and the country.

£3m scheme to get Bradford's children more healthy to finally start this summer - 18 months after being announced

Members of the committee were told that the first four years of the scheme were the “implementation phase” - and it was now ready to deliver the bulk of its work.

A number of projects have been delivered, including an antenatal course called Welcome to the World, a “Baby Buddy” app that provides advice for parents and parents to be, Cooking for a Better Start which offers families cooking classes to teach them how to prepare low cost, healthy food, and the Better Start Imagine project which provides free books for children under four.

In November there will be the second Baby Week, which will see over 40 events planned for across the district. It follows on from last year’s successful event.

And there is also a grants scheme where parents and grandparents can apply for funding to run events they feel are not provided in their areas.

Alex Spragg, Programme Director, attended Thursday’s committee meeting in Bradford City Hall to give members an update on progress.

She said: “This is very much a test and learn programme. We don’t have the answers, but will only find them out by testing different methods. We expect to leave a legacy of learning to improve outcomes for the youngest people in Bradford.

“The first four years has been the implementation stage, everything has been set up and services commissioned. We’re now in the delivery phase where all the projects are being established.”

Councillor David Ward (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe) questioned what would happen when the funding ended in 2025, and if these areas might once again need intervention once Better Start Bradford was over..

He added: “How do we work things so we don’t have to have another £49 million spent in 10 years’ time?”

She replied saying the research would find out what schemes worked, and which ones were sustainable to continue for the future.

Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) pointed out that the scheme had so far not been on schedule. He added: “We’re already behind, what happens if we don’t spend all the money that has been allocated to this?”

Mrs Spragg replied: “Plans are in place for for it to be spent on time.

“There is a lot of scrutiny to make sure that is the case.

“While we might not be on the timetable that was originally planned for we’re now in the delivery phase.”