Family Hubs

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:17 pm on 24th July 2018.

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Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 5:17 pm, 24th July 2018

Let me just make some headway. I will come back to my hon. Friend if time permits, because I have a lot to say about this subject

We share a common view about the importance of effective local support for families. That is why the Government’s legislation and funding is designed to give local authorities the freedom to decide the best way to deliver their services, based on their understanding of their local needs and the character of their areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield mentioned that, for every council that is not doing well, there is a very good example of one that has done well for its families. We welcome the development of family hubs as a way to meet local need. We encourage local authorities to adopt the family hub approach, which aims to build stronger relationships and co-locate services, if they believe it would deliver improved outcomes for their areas.

We already know that many councils are moving toward that model of support, working with local statutory, voluntary—as the hon. Member for Strangford mentioned —community and private sector partners. When I was promoted to Minister, one of the first meetings I had was with Lord Farmer and the team that put together the manifesto. I have already promised my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton that I would visit a family hub in Essex and I still plan to do so.

What we are discussing today is how we can ensure that strong, effective local services provide effective support for families and children. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the work that the Government are doing to deliver that. The strengthening families manifesto argues that Government should be working to put in place a nought-to-19 model across the country. We know others advocate for a sharper focus on younger children, proposing that children’s centres focus on a nought-to-two age range. The shadow Minister talked about that early intervention.

My view is that both of those models, depending on local circumstances, could work and provide much needed support to families, just as I am sure that there are others models that can work, too. Let me be clear, it is for local authorities to determine the model that they believe will work best for them, based on their area’s specific needs and on the history of local provision, local community circumstances and priorities.