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Meg Munn: From January 2005, the law was clarified to ensure courts consider the effects of domestic violence on children. Also new forms were introduced to enable domestic violence allegations to be made at the start of court applications for contact and residence involving children. These measures build on the Children Act 2004, Every Child Matters and Safeguarding Children Guidelines on how to support children who have witnessed domestic violence.
Workforce reforms are also in place, including a common core of training for all professionals working with children. Research is due to be carried out one year on from the implementation of the new gateway reforms.
Lynda Waltho: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will discuss with ministerial colleagues (a) the courts being provided with powers to include restraining orders in the sentencing of perpetrators of domestic violence and (b) the granting of anonymity for the victims of such violence in relevant court proceedings. 
Meg Munn: £30 million has been invested over three years for new refuge provision and refurbishment of existing refuge schemes. We have also invested £1.4 million to develop a new national domestic violence helpline (0808 2000 247).
£200,000 is being provided in 200506 for the development of minimum service standards for the Women's Aid network of domestic violence services, a programme of accredited training and support for the regional network of women's refuges.
A substantially revised domestic violence Best Value Performance Indicator will help assess overall provision and effectiveness of local authority services designed to help victims of domestic violence.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of services available to children who have been involved in domestic violence in West Lancashire. 
Nationally, it is imperative that domestic violence is integrated throughout work with children. The harm that can arise to children from domestic violence is set out in "Working Together to Safeguard Children" (1999) and these references will be updated when the new version of this guidance is published later
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in 2006. Domestic violence will be included as a factor to consider as part of the Common Assessment Framework (the nationally standardised approach to conducting an assessment of the needs of a child or young person and deciding how those needs should be met).
The Children Act 2004 addresses the issue of services for all children at risk including those affected by domestic violence. The Children's Act should deliver greater accountability and integration of services locally, regionally and nationally, with a lead member for Children's Services and director of Children's Services in every local authority and a local safeguarding children board in every local area.
In West Lancashire, there are currently three Sure Start children centres, each offering a multi-agency approach to a range of services for children and their families, based on individual need; including early learning integrated with day care, health services, parental outreach, jobcentre plus, information and advice to parents and access to specialist services. Two further children's centres are to be developed in the West Lancashire area during 2006 to 2008.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on improving the services offered to women seeking refuge from domestic violence in West Lancashire. 
Meg Munn: As Minister for Women and Equality, I sit on the Inter-Ministerial Group for Domestic Violence, chaired by my noble Friend Baroness Scotland of Ashtal which overseas the cross-Government National Domestic Violence delivery plan by reviewing progress at quarterly meetings. This is the mechanism for improving the services offered to women seeking refuge from domestic violence nationally.
The Government office for the north west (GONW) ensures that the National Domestic Violence delivery plan is disseminated and considered by all regional and local stakeholders through the development of an associated regional action plan. GONW is currently developing a regional strategy for domestic violence which will include West Lancashire.
I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department's response to PQ No.53383 on the Government's plans to improve the services offered to women seeking refuge from domestic violence in West Lancashire for further details on the progress made.
[holding answer 27 February 2006]: The Women and Work Commission has today presented to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister its final report:
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"Shaping a Fairer Future" and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about fiscal incentives for married mothers who wish to stay at home and bring up their children full-time. 
Families both in and out of paid employment have benefited substantially from the changes in the tax and benefit system. As a result of the Government's reforms since 1997, by October 2005, in real terms, families with children are on average £1,400 a year better off, while those in the poorest fifth are on average £3,200 per year better off.
Budget 2005 improved this situation still further by announcing a commitment to increase the child element of child tax credit at least in line with average earnings up to and including 200708. From April the child element of child tax credit will be worth up to £1,765 a year for each child.
Meg Munn [holding answer 27 February 2006]: The Government encourage all types of flexible working across the workforce by providing detailed guidance, promoting the benefits and sharing best practice.
Business Link provides practical support and advice for employers on starting, maintaining and growing a business. Apart from help from individual advisers, the national award-winning website www.businesslink.gov.uk provides information about the benefits of, and different types of, flexible working, including job-sharing. Employers and employees can also access advice from the ACAS website and helpline.
Since April 2003 parents with children under six and disabled children under 18 have had the statutory right to request flexible working. The law has been a success, with nearly 90 per cent. of requests agreed. Building on this, the Work and Families Bill, currently before Parliament, proposes extending the scope of the existing law to include carers of adultsa group who face particular challenges in balancing their caring responsibilities with work.
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