One third of Sure Start children’s centres have closed since 2010

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Figures obtained by the Labour party reveal that there are now more than 1,240 fewer designated children’s centres than when the Conservatives took office – a fall of around 34 per cent since 2010.

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Over 230 children's centres shut in the last year, according to the FOI figures

The figures, submitted by local authorities in response to a Freedom of Information request by the party, also show that more than 230 children’s centres have shut in the last year alone.

Local authorities were asked to provide the number of designated statutory children's centres and data for the 2016/17 financial year and for 2009/10.

They have been released ahead of an announcement by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow about how the party plans to stand up for working families.

According to the figures, the North East and London have seen the biggest fall in numbers, with over 40 per cent of Sure Start centres lost. Two local authorities, Swindon and Solihull, reported that they have no designated children’s centres left.

A consultation on the future of children’s centres was expected in 2015. In February, Labour MP for Barnsley Dan Jarvis, called on the Government to publish the delayed consultation at the earliest opportunity and to stop the cuts to centres.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said, ‘The Tories claim they’re protecting Sure Start, but they’re not. They use tricky accounting methods - like pointing to buildings which are still open but which are running much reduced services – to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes. But the facts speak for themselves. On the same measure that was used in 2010, Sure Start has been slashed.

‘There are a third fewer designated centres than there were when the Tories came to office. We know that because we asked local authorities, those tasked with running these vital services, and that’s what they told us. 

‘The Tories are taking us backwards. It’s a scandal that parents and children are paying the price.’

A Deprtment for Education spokesperson said, 'These figures are misleading as they fail to account for children’s centres which are still offering vital services, but have been merged with other centres in the area to increase efficiency. If a council decides to close a children’s centre site, they must demonstrate that local children and families would not be adversely affected and local areas continue to have sufficient children’s centres to meet their needs.
 
'We are determined to ensure children get the best start in life and to help working families with the cost of childcare. That is why we are investing a record £6 billion in childcare per year by 2020, which includes extra support for disadvantaged families.'

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