David Cameron and George Osborne have abandoned their promise to protect Sure Start, and are instead slashing budgets by hundreds of millions across the UK, with poor areas like Lambeth singled out for bigger cuts. The Early Intervention Grant which pays for children’s centres has been cut by over £5 million in Lambeth, equivalent to a £90 cut for every young person. Labour councillors are fuming that the Tory-led Government appears to be protecting wealthier boroughs like Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Windsor and Maidenhead, who are seeing a cut of only £30 a head.
Despite the Tory betrayal, the Labour councillors for Thornton ward have fought to ensure that local children’s centres, including the Weir link and Maytree, will be protected from closure. Lambeth’s Labour administration has now pledged to protect Lambeth’s entire network of 27 children’s centres, which are vital to ensure very young children and their families get the very best start in life. Lambeth has lost over £6million in grants for services like Children’s Centres, which is on top of the £79m of savings the Council must make after the Tory-led government slashed its budget by a third. No Lambeth children’s centre will close this year despite the cuts, and Labour have ring fenced more than £13 million to spend on early years.
Local Labour councillor Ed Davie said: “Local families in Thornton have been understandably worried after hearing about the Tory government’s decision to slash funding for Sure Start. Many parents asked us to ensure the council didn’t close childrens centres as a result, and we met with Labour’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People to share their concerns. We are furious that Lambeth has been singled out for bigger cuts by the Tory Government – by cutting too far and too fast and asking children to bear the brunt, they are showing that they have no idea what pressure ordinary families in Thornton are under. We’re delighted that Lambeth’s Labour administration has agreed to protect young children from the Tory cuts, and to keep all of our local children’s centres open to families.”
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Pete Robbins said: “As a Labour administration we are committed to protect Lambeth’s children’s centres from closure. Early Intervention services like Sure Start Children’s Centres do vital work with local families to improve health, education and life chances for their children. I’d like to thank the Labour councillors for Thornton for taking the time to meet with me and share their concerns – I’m pleased that we have together been able to protect local children from the worst of the Tory cuts.”