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Family Hubs

Volume 630: debated on Monday 30 October 2017

7. What steps he is taking to encourage local authorities to work with voluntary and private sector partners to establish family hubs. (901469)

I welcome the development of family hubs and we know that many areas are already moving towards this model of support for children and families. Local government and its partners understand the needs of their communities best, and they should be the ones to determine how they provide services for families.

As we know, the wheels can fall off any family’s wagon at any point; family hubs can be an essential part of the solution, to improve the lives of children up to the age of 18. Does the Minister agree that more local areas should upgrade their children’s centres to family hubs so that we can do this essential work?

I welcome my hon. Friend’s commitment to excellent services for children and families. Ultimately it is up to councils to decide on the best solution for their area, but it is important that the whole family has access to the right services to meet their needs.

On that point, of the 120,000 children in temporary accommodation across 77,240 families, 28% are housed in boroughs other than their own, and the receiving boroughs often have no idea that those children—many of them vulnerable—have entered their areas. Will the Minister consider the suggestion of providing family hubs at large-scale temporary accommodation centres outside home boroughs?

We are clear that when people are placed in temporary accommodation, access to things such as schooling is taken into account. We are also clear that when people are moved to a neighbouring or different borough, they should be informing the receiving borough and support should be given to those families. I am working to support London authorities that are working with the Greater London Authority to improve the procurement of temporary accommodation across London.

It is good to hear Members on both sides of the House talking about the value of early intervention and family hubs. I ask the Minister to come to Manchester to see the early years delivery model, which is now transforming lives in those early years, working across the voluntary and private sectors. Critical to those family hubs is the support of the local authority. Does he agree that the slash and burn approach to early intervention moneys is putting children’s lives at risk?

I am aware that under the northern powerhouse initiative we are putting £3.2 million into Manchester for early intervention. The next time I am in that neck of the woods I would certainly be keen to come and see what is working in Manchester. I can reassure the hon. Lady that the Government are committed to early intervention, both through children’s centres and the troubled families programme.

Across swathes of England, children’s services are now in crisis. Seven years of Government funding cuts to services supporting families is failing children and driving councils to the financial brink. Only last week, a poll showed that the majority of councillors in the Minister’s party did not back the cuts. When will the Minister finally admit the growing emergency in children’s social care and take some action, ahead of the Budget, to deal now with this major crisis for councils?

More than £200 billion is being given to local authorities up to 2020 to support local services. Children’s services and early intervention are among that funding stream. The Government are aware of the challenges in many areas with providing children’s services and safeguarding, and we continually look at ways in which we can support local government in that regard.