HC Deb 12 January 2004 vol 416 cc527-8
18. Jeff Ennis (Barnsley, East and Mexborough) (Lab)

What plans he has to provide child care in schools to help people to move from welfare into work. [146800]

The Minister for Work (Mr. Desmond Browne)

The extended schools programme is putting schools at the heart of their communities. Schools are taking the opportunity to provide a range of services and activities, such as child care, to help meet the needs of pupils, their families and local people.

Two hundred and forty extended schools will be funded over the next three years, including at least one in every local education authority. They will deliver an expansion of school-based child care to make it easier for those with caring responsibilities, particularly lone parents, to move into work.

Jeff Ennis

Is the Minister aware that last Friday I attended the opening of The Willows, the new neighbourhood nursery unit attached to Willowgarth high school in Grimethorpe in my constituency, which is providing not only a full range of day care services to the local community but child care opportunities for year 10 and year 11 students at the school? Does he agree that such facilities and initiatives can make a real difference to disadvantaged communities such as Grimethorpe?

Mr. Browne

I was not aware that my hon. Friend had visited that facility, but I am pleased that he and other hon. Members on both sides of the House support the significant development of child care across the country. He is right to identify the importance of child care to our aspirations in terms of employment. That is why, in addition to the existing and planned investment to expand child care, which since 1997 has created over 800,000 new child care places, helping over 1.4 million children to access child care, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced three pilots in Bradford, Lewisham and Haringey for further child care places specifically to help lone parents back into work.