Harman calls for family minister


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Labour deputy leadership contender Harriet Harman will call for the creation of a minister for the family later today.

In a speech to the New Local Government Network think-tank Ms Harman will argue that focussing on the family will help improve education in Britain and, by so doing, boost community ties.

The family justice minister will also call for an equivalent officer to be put in place at the local government level to work with the secretary of state for the family in Whitehall.

"Local government services have long had a focus on protecting the vulnerable and have also looked to building the strength of local communities through tenants and residents and community organisations. But what more can local government do to support the families that underpin those communities?" she is set to ask.

In addition to providing governmental emphasis on the family Ms Harman also wants to see other linkages between education and community. She will propose keeping schools open all the time to combat the perception that children have "nothing better to do" and get better value out of schools' facilities.

"We need to take the Sure Start approach - high quality community based services accessible

to all but focussing first on areas of deprivation - and take it up the age range," she will say.

"And we need to ensure that the millions invested in the state of sport, computers and arts facilities in rebuilt and new schools are not closed after school, at weekends or school holidays but are available to young people in the local community whether or not they go to the school and not at a price which shuts them out".

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