HC Deb 17 March 2003 vol 401 cc621-2
11. Ms Ann Coffey (Stockport)

What assessment he has made of the future impact of the new children's centres on supporting parents in work. [102955]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Maria Eagle)

Local authorities are just beginning their strategic planning for children's centres, so it is too early for such an assessment to have been made. However, we are expecting them to make a significant impact. Every children's centre must provide day care suitable for working parents, five days a week, 10 hours a day, for a minimum of 48 weeks a year. They will also act as service hubs for providers of child care services for children of all ages, linking to Jobcentre Plus offices, and offer support to parents who wish to consider training options.

Ms Coffey

I welcome the funding for the new children's centres, which for the first time will enable child care, early-years education and support for parents to be provided in the same place. Such children's centres will be especially welcome in Brinnington in my constituency, which has the highest number of parents on income support and the lowest number of childminders. There are jobs available, but child care continues to be an issue. Can my hon. Friend say when decisions are likely to be made about where the children's centres will be? When she makes the decisions, will she bear Brinnington in mind?

Maria Eagle

As usual, my hon. Friend has been early in the queue of hon. Members to see my noble Friend Baroness Ashton of Upholland, who is responsible for those matters, to make representations to us. We expect local authority proposals to be with us by October, and we shall make decisions shortly thereafter. My hon. Friend's council, Stockport, has already had an indicative allocation of more than £1 million to make the children's centres work in her constituency. I am sure that both the council and my noble Friend will consider the Brinnington ward when the decisions come to be made, especially in view of what my hon. Friend has said today.

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