60,000 families have been betrayed by David Cameron as a new survey indicates that 250 Sure Start centres will close. The findings undermine key promises by David Cameron.
Sixty thousand families have been betrayed by David Cameron as a new survey indicates that 250 Sure Start centres will close over the next 12 months. The findings undermine key promises before and after the general election by David Cameron and Michael Gove.
• 250 (7%) will close or are expected to close, affecting an estimated 60,000 families
• 2,000 (56%) will provide a reduced service
• 3,100 (86%) will have a decreased budget
• Staff at 1,000 centres (28%) have been issued with ‘at risk of redundancy’ notices
The findings are a slap in the face for many local authorities who were told by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, as recently as December:
“We have additionally ensured that there is enough money in the EIG [Early Intervention Grant] to maintain the existing network of Sure Start Children’s Centres”
On the eve of the general election, David Cameron was asked for a guarantee that Sure Start centres would continue to receive funding. In response, the Tory leader said:
“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this. He’s the Prime Minister of this country but he’s been scaring people about something that really matters.”
Responding to the same question, Nick Clegg said:
“Yes. Sure Start is a really important programme that has made a real difference to millions of parents. Difficult decisions are going to have to be made in public spending, but Sure Start is one of the best things the last government has done and I want all these centres to stay open.”
Anand Shukla, acting Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said: “Behind every Children’s Centre facing closure is a community of families devastated at losing one of their most valued local services.” Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said: “Families across the country, particularly the most vulnerable, depend on Sure Start Children’s Centres to help get their children off to the best start in life.” Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“David Cameron made a personal promise to protect and build on Sure Start. Today we learn that these were just hollow words and yet another broken promise to the families of our country. By asking children and families to bear the brunt of their cuts, this Tory-led Government is showing that they have no idea what pressure ordinary families are under.
The survey of Children’s Centre Managers took place between January 20th and 25th following an email to Centre Managers listed on the Family Information Service (FIS) / Directgov database. A total of 917 Children’s Centre Managers took part in the survey using surveymonkey.com. Figures were then extrapolated to understand the impact the results would have for the 3,578 Centres across England. The 60,000 figure was based on a conservative average of 244 families using each Centre. 32% of survey respondents said their Centre catered for 150+ families; a further 52% said it was 300+.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.