The Humble Petition of residents of Rushden, Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas,
That in Rushden and the surrounding areas, there is a high proportion of isolated working women with children; further that this group often suffers post-natal depression through their circumstances but as they are often working and married, these women are not targeted for support by the local Council; and further that local children’s centres currently provide a vital lifeline to these women, offering them access to non-judgemental support networks, other mothers with similar aged children, and the reassurance that regular, trained and familiar staff are keeping an eye on their babies and their mental health.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to encourage Spurgeons and Northamptonshire County Council to reconsider their decision to reduce universal access services for working women with children and instead decide to increase the offer of such services to nearer 50% of the overall service provided.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, and c.––[Official Report, 21 January 2015; Vol.591, c. 3P.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:
The Government acknowledge the important part that such services can play in local communities. We want to see a strong network of children’s centres in place across the country, offering families access to a wide range of local, flexible services, tackling disadvantage and preparing children for life in modern Britain.
Local authorities have a statutory duty on children’s centre sufficiency and should ensure services are accessible to all families and young children in their area, with the revised core purpose setting out a particular focus on those families with the greatest needs.
It is up to local authorities to decide how to organise and commission services from children’s centres in their area, which is why we have given local councils, like Northamptonshire, the freedom to target their resources where they will best support the needs of local communities.
Local authorities have the funding to ensure they can meet their statutory duty to provide sufficient children’s centres.