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Nurseries

Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what local authority social services nurseries the city of Newcastle upon Tyne provided under the Children Act 1989 in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006; (111904)

(2) what guidance he has given to Newcastle upon Tyne city council on the closure or outsourcing of its existing local authority day nurseries; and what general guidance has been given to local authority children’s services on the future of existing directly provided authorities;

(3) what representations he has received from individuals and organisations in Newcastle on (a) the Children Act 1989 and (b) the outsourcing and closure of existing local authority social service day nurseries under the Childcare Act 2006.

Newcastle upon Tyne city council has been given no guidance on the closure or outsourcing of its existing local authority day nurseries and no representations have been received in relation to the outsourcing or closure of local authority social service day nurseries in Newcastle. Details of local authority social services nurseries in Newcastle are not held centrally.

Section 8 of the Childcare Act 2006 provides that a local authority may not deliver new child care provision itself unless it is satisfied that no other provider is willing to do so or, if another provider is willing to do so, that in the circumstances it is appropriate for the local authority to provide the child care. We intend section 8 to come into force in October 2007. It will not affect the provision of child care by the governing body of a maintained school, and it will not apply to day care for children in need provided under section 18 of the Children Act 1989.

We intend to begin consulting on draft statutory guidance which will cover section 8 of the Childcare Act 2006 (and other sections relating to the new local authority duty to secure sufficient child care for working parents which will come into force in April 2008) within the next few weeks. That guidance will make clear that the restriction in section 8 relates only to new or expanding local authority child care. There is no requirement for local authorities to close their existing provision, or change it when section 8 comes into force. If, however, a local authority wishes to expand existing child care in terms of the number of places or the hours offered, or if it wishes to open new provision, the requirements of section 8 will need to be met.