401 fewer Sure Start centres as Tory led Councils lead list of cuts
Labour is today publishing figures obtained through Parliamentary questioning which show the devastating impact of the Government’s cuts to Sure Start children’s centres. For the first time, the figures show the impact on the ground – with figures broken down by local authority.
401 centres have closed since May 2010, after the Government cut the budget which funds Sure Start by a third – over £430 million. This comes despite incorrect claims by the Prime Minister last year that the budget for Sure Start was increasing.
Many of the remaining Sure Start centres have seen services hollowed out with 55 per cent no longer providing any onsite childcare, 20 per cent charging for services that were formerly free and 20 per cent of centres having reduced the numbers of qualified teachers.
The news comes as Labour reveals that working parents with two children are being hit by a ‘Toddler Tax’ of up to £1,700 this April and next.
David Cameron said he would protect Sure Start, but the figures released today show that Tory councils are closing centres as a result of his cuts. Lincolnshire, Hampshire and Cornwall, all of which are Conservative run councils, have seen a total of 76 closures.
London and the South East are the two worst hit regions, with 126 fewer centres and 62 fewer centres respectively.
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s Shadow Children’s Minister, said:
“Before the election, David Cameron said he would protect Sure Start. But on his watch we have seen over 400 children’s centres shut down, and the services they provide be cut as well. Half of the centres that are left no longer provide onsite childcare, and one in five are charging parents for services that used to be free.
“David Cameron has broken his promise to be the most family friendly Government. Parents will feel really let down.”