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Children’s Centres (Ipswich)

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

There are 11 designated children’s centres in Ipswich, offering services to approximately 8,000 children aged under 5 and their families. In the next three years, Suffolk will have a further £28.7 million to develop an additional 13 centres, including in Ipswich, to provide all families with those services by 2010.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. We are about to start celebrating the success of children’s centres in Ipswich and in the wider county. Staff working in the Wellington centre, in Ipswich, have told me how much they value working in a multi-agency way, because it helps them to address the often complex needs of some of those families with young children. Will she continue to resist proposals to cut £200 million from the Sure Start programme, as that would undermine the high-quality early learning and health interventions and the employment outreach work that are so vital to some of those families?

Yes, the proposals to which my hon. Friend refers would leave a black hole of £120 million and would involve a £200 million cut in the programme. More than that, they are wrong-headed, because this is not about having either health visitors or outreach workers; we need multi-agency teams that include both, as with the excellent co-located services in Ipswich, where health visitors hold clinics and carry out home visits with family support outreach workers. That system is about working together.