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Minister Margaret Hodge yesterday announced government approval for every local authority-led Childcare Partnership...
Minister Margaret Hodge yesterday announced government approval for every local authority-led Childcare Partnership.

Speaking at an LGA conference, the minister thanked the association for its help in working with local authorities to ensure that all the plans submitted this year were approved.

Mrs Hodge said: `The successful plans announced today represent a significant achievement for both the councils involved and their local partners. The National Childcare Strategy is an excellent opportunity for local authorities to demonstrate community leadership.

`I am very pleased with the commitment and support that the LGA and its member authorities have given to the expansion of early years education and childcare', she said.

Rita Stringfellow, chair of the LGA's social affairs and health committee said: `Through its policy work, lobbying and regular meetings with ministers, the LGA has ensured that councils, working alongside their local partners, have a lead role in co-ordinating this strategy.

`But the real success is the opportunity this offers for children and their families.'

However LGA leaders were confused by the criticism that councils were not spending enough money on their childcare plans.

`It is frustrating that local authorities are being criticised for underspending when they don't know how much money they have been given in the first place', said Cllr Stringfellow.

`The new funding has been added to the main spending pot. If it had been ringfenced we would have known how much had been earmarked for this initiative.

`We shall seek greater clarity in the future and make sure that we are focusing on the best outcome for children and their families, not the funding process', she said.

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