HC Deb 14 March 1994 vol 239 cc537-8W
Ms Harman

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much her Department spends on child care provision for the under-fives and out-of-school provision for children aged over five either directly, excluding provision for departmental staff, or indirectly through resources made available to local authorities or other organisations; what form of provision is thereby provided; how many places are thereby provided; and if she will make a statement on child care;

(2) if she will make a statement about child care.

Mr. Bowis

The Government are committed to encouraging expansion of independent day care services. The pattern and levels should be determined at local level by local authorities, voluntary bodies, the private sector, employers and individuals—including parents, working together. The Children Act 1989 gives local authorities a strategic duty for day care, which ensures coherent and sensible expansion, building on the recent growth in day nurseries, numbers of childminders and other types of service.

Information on local authority expenditure on child care is not available centrally by separate age group. Standard spending for children's services generally in 1993–94 is £1,723 million, 16 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1990–91.

The latest statistics on day care provision are in "Children's Day Care Facilities at 31 March 1992—England", a copy of which is in the Library.

Detailed information about the cost and level of nursery provision in the national health service is not available centrally. It is for individual NHS employers to provide for the child care needs of their staff in the light of local recruitment and retention needs.

The Department has an active programme of grant aid to voluntary organisations to support the development of innovative services. During 1993–94 over £2.3 million has been made available to support 13 national voluntary organisations, including the National Childminding Association, the Pre-School Playgroups Association and the Kids' Club Network. The Department's out-of-school initiative, which involves national and local voluntary organisations in the management of projects, is pump priming expansion of day care for school age children. It complements the Department of Employment's child care grant to training and enterprise councils.

Forward to