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Top Stories: Government Unveils Family Hub Plans, Pressure Piles On Sunak To Provide Ukraine With Planes

Family hubs will transition services that used to be under the government's Sure Start programme (Alamy)

5 min read

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled £300m in funding for the rollout of family hubs across England, which will help give support and guidance to families with children.

In a joint article in the Daily Mail, Sunak and former cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, who advises the government on early years policy, announced the plans for family hubs across England.

A network of 75 family hubs will be implemented with the aim of supporting parents and children, with support and guidance on subjects ranging from breastfeeding and children's health to mental health and parenting lessons. 

£300m of investment will benefit the 75 areas up to 2025, with the intention of acting as a ‘one stop shop’ for parents. 

The family hubs will support children from birth to the age of 19, contrasting with the government's previous Sure Start programme which supported children up to five years old.

Children minister Claire Coutinho told Sky News that thousands will benefit from the rollout of family hubs which will be targeting areas of "deprivation".

The government has published a progress report setting out the government's priorities on early years support, which it claims will "transform" the lives of families. 

Fourteen local authorities have been selected as the areas the hubs will be first introduced, described as the "trailblazers" for the programme, including Blackpool, Cornwall, County Durham, Coventry, East Sussex, Hull, Isle of Wight, Kent, Manchester, Northumberland, Salford, Sheffield, Sunderland, and Torbay.

Pressure piling on Sunak to send planes to Ukraine

Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelensky hugging at Stansted airport
President Zelensky visited the UK for the first time this week since Russia's full-scale invasion of his country in February 2022 (Alamy)

After President Zelensky’s impassioned speech to UK Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under increased pressure to send jets to Ukraine to help in the war against Russia.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson is among the strongest advocates for sending planes to bolster Ukraine’s defences, tweeting: "There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained by sending planes now.”

Although Sunak has said that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to supporting Ukraine, he is yet to commit to handing over the fighter jets that Zelensky asked for in his Westminster speech. 

Showing rare unity at Prime Minister’s Questions shortly before Zelensky’s speech, Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer agreed that the UK must continue to be an ardent supporter of Ukraine against Putin’s Russia. 

Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether Labour would support whatever Sunak decides on sending jets, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said there must be a “careful balance” between support and escalating international conflict. 

“We are able to have the necessary intelligence briefings that assist us with making the judgements to keep this a cross-party issue in the UK Parliament,” he said. 

“We saw that with President Zelensky addressing us yesterday and of course we would want to maintain that. 

“This is a careful balance between ensuring we support the Ukrainians and we don’t see Russia dominate their air over the course of the next few months, but recognising that we also can’t see planes being used effectively in Russia.

“That would be a major escalation of the conflict.”

Firefighters strike postponed after revised pay offer

firefighters
Firefighter union members are holding another ballot to vote on a revised pay offer (Alamy)

A major strike by UK firefighters has been postponed after a new pay offer from fire service employers. 

The strike would have been one in a long string of public sector strikes carried out this year, including by nurses, ambulance workers, teachers, rail and bus workers, and civil servants.

More than 80 per cent of Fire Brigades Union members voted to strike, but a revised offer of a 7 per cent pay rise backdated to last summer and another 5 per cent from this July, has put strike plans on hold.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), told the Radio 4’s Today programme that union members have seen a 12 per cent fall in real income over the last 13 years, but that the new pay offer was "testament to the power of collective action".

"We have achieved this increase because of the massive vote in favour of strike action by firefighters and control staff across the country, which made clear the strength of feeling among firefighters about cuts to their wages," he said. 

FBU members will now be balloted again to determine whether a strike will still take place. 

The strikes would be the first UK-wide fire service industry strikes over pay since 2003.

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