HC Deb 15 March 1994 vol 239 cc734-5
7. Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what progress has been made with making the out-of-school child care grant self-financing.

Miss Widdecombe

The out-of-school child care grant provides financial and other help for the start up of new after-school and holiday child care schemes. Training and enterprise councils may fund individual schemes for up to 12 months, after which they are expected to become self-financing. It is still too early in the cycle of the schemes to obtain reliable information about how far they are succeeding.

Mrs. Gorman

While I welcome whole-heartedly the Government's determination to ensure that children have somewhere to go after school instead of running round the streets and perhaps getting into mischief, does my hon. Friend agree that it would be easier for those schemes to continue if parents could treats the costs as tax deductible expenses and if those parents who have to work to support themselves and their families could be given assistance without losing wages or benefits?

Miss Widdecombe

Our view is that it is not for the Government alone, either through tax relief or other measures, to fund such schemes, but that they must be funded by partnerships of employers, volunteers, the employees themselves, Government and other local interests.

Mrs. Helen Jackson

Does the Minister recognise that at a cost of £30 a week in school time and £60 a week in the holidays, such provision will not help families in areas of deprivation, particularly if the Government insist on the schemes being self-financing after one year?

Miss Widdecombe

I believe that people in areas of deprivation will benefit substantially from the £28 disregard that we introduced into family credit. The hon. Lady says that the cost is a prohibitive factor. It is worth recording that on the basis of partnerships and other provisions that we have introduced since 1988, nursery places are up 150 per cent., places with registered child minders are up 40 per cent. and more than 90 per cent. of three and four-year-olds spend some time each week with their peers in some form of provision.