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Sure Start

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 9th February 2006.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Labour, Bishop Auckland 10:30 am, 9th February 2006

If she will make a statement on the Sure Start programme in the north-east.

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills, Minister of State (Education and Skills) (Children, Young People and Families)

There are 62 Sure Start local programmes in the north-east, most of which will become Sure Start children's centres by March this year. Children's centres will provide integrated support services for parents of young children under five. There are 53 designated children's centres operational in the north-east, and we propose to increase that to more than 250 by September this year, and to more than 340 by March 2008.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Labour, Bishop Auckland

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. My constituents are grateful for the two Sure Starts that have opened in the past six months—one in Evenwood and one in Bishop Auckland—where children and families are enjoying activities and facilities that they never had before. However, I get complaints from people who are unable to go to Sure Start. Can the Minister say what new Sure Starts and children's centres are planned for the constituency?

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills, Minister of State (Education and Skills) (Children, Young People and Families)

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and for her work in supporting and promoting early years services, particularly Sure Start. By September 2006, there will be another 30 designated children's centres in County Durham, including a total of five in her constituency. There will be more in phase 2, but we do not yet have their locations; I will let her know as soon as I am aware of them.