Thirty one Sure Start centres have closed since the election, despite David Cameron's pre-election pledges and post-election promises the centres would be protected.
Thirty one Sure Start centres have closed since the election, despite David Cameron’s pre-election pledges and post-election promises the centres would be protected. Freedom of Information requests by the New Statesman to the Department for Education reveal seven centres are being shut in Redbridge, five in Greenwich, four in Wandsworth and two in Hackney
In keeping with coalition ideology, the cuts to Sure Start funding, the NS reveals, are hitting the poorest areas the hardest.
In Tower Hamlets, Knowsley and Hackney – where centres have already been closed – it is being cut by £100 a year; in wealthier areas like Richmond, Buckinghamshire and Surrey, meanwhile, cuts amount to just £30 a child.
On the eve of the election, on the very day before voters went to the polls, David Cameron 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 Mmnister of this country but he’s been scaring people about something that really matters.
“Not only do we back Sure Start, but we will improve it, because at the moment the people who need Sure Start the most – disadvantaged families – are not getting enough of the benefit. So we’ll contract independent organisations that have a proven track record in helping families, such as Lifeline and Homestart, to run children’s centres and reach out to those families who need that extra support.
“What’s more, our plan for 4,200 new Sure Start health visitors will give families expert reinforcements at the time when they need them most.”
While in March this year, he told PMQs:
“We have maintained the money for sure start. We have maintained the money for children’s centres… The budget is going up.”
That’s right, he claimed the budget was going up. The cold, heartless reality, for those whose Sure Start centres have been slashed by George Osbore, suggests otherwise.
• Cameron betrays 60,000 families as 250 Sure Start centres set to shut – Will Straw, January 28 2011