Children’s minister Margaret Hodge attempted to allay fears last
week that parent participation in Sure Start local programmes would
diminish once they came under local authority control.
Hodge said the government would put in place measures to ensure
local programmes remained parent- and community-driven.
“I get surprised that people undermine local government,” she
told the House of Commons education and skills committee.
“The idea that we are better at getting community participation
in Sure Start at the centre is very much mistaken.”
From April 2006, money for Sure Start local programmes will
begin to be channelled through local authorities rather than be
given directly to the programmes. By April 2008, all programmes
will be funded in this way.
The 524 local programmes will change into children’s centres and
the government aims to create 3,500 centres in England by 2010.
Hodge promised MPs that children’s centres “would not be
short-changed in any way”. However, she admitted that she
“sometimes worried” about children’s centres attracting
She said it was important that, for example, children’s centres
attracted mainstream funding from health bodies for services such
as health visitors, and that the centres were not solely funded
through Sure Start.
She said primary care trusts were often unclear how much they were
spending on children.