Children’s centre closures ‘puts future wellbeing at risk’

family law

Labour MP Dan Jarvis has warned that the rate of children’s centre closures across the UK “risks the future wellbeing of our children”.

Since 2010, more than 350 Sure Start centres have been closed while only eight new ones have been opened, Jarvis revealed during questions to Junior Education Minister Caroline Dinenage this week. The number of closures has risen significantly each year, with 156 centres shutting their doors permanently in 2015.

These centres were introduced in 1998 by the Labour government. They were intended to provide help and support to struggling families with such issues as early education and childcare.

Speaking prior to the second reading of a bill he introduced to combat child poverty, Jarvis claimed that government spending on these centres was as much as 47 per cent lower in the 2015/16 financial year than it had been in 2010.

He said:

“The government should be supporting Sure Start children’s centres, not closing them … Giving our children the best possible start in life should be a priority for every government.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education insisted that the government planned to invest “a record £6 billion in childcare per year by 2020 and this includes extra support for disadvantaged families”.

She explained that before a council closes a Sure Start centre, it must first demonstrate that doing so “will not compromise the duty to have sufficient children’s centres to meet local need”.

In October, the Children’s Commissioner for England recommended that children’s centres be replaced by family hubs. She said that such facilities could better deal with “the root causes of intergenerational poverty, family breakdown, and poor outcomes for children” than the current system can.

Photo by Till Westermayer via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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