Council cut brings end to charity-run children's centres

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Barnardo's and Action for Children have lost their contracts to run seven children's centres in Leicester in a council bid to save 1.7m a year.

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While the plans are still in the early stages, it is likely that Leicester City Council will take over the running of the centres.

Currently, Action for Children manages five of Leicester's 23 Sure Start children's centres - St Matthews, Highfields, Bewcastle and Netherall, while Barnardo's runs two centres, Saffron and Hamilton.

Leicester City Council first considered ending the charities' contracts in its budget consultation at the beginning of the year after seeing 'severe reductions' in Government funding, which the council says forced it to re-think it's children's centre strategy.

According to the city's assistant mayor for children, young people and schools, Vi Dempster, the move will reduce the children's centre's operating costs by £1.7m a year.

Ms Dempster said, ‘Despite significant savings imposed on us by central Government we remain committed to the provision of children’s centre services across the country.’

Both Barnardo’s and Action for Children have been consulted on the decision and are said to be ‘understanding as to the council’s rationale and position’.

Laurie Long, Action for Children's operational director of children's services, said, 'Action for Children has long provided high quality early years services in Leicester, working with parents, carers, the local community and partner organisations to make a positive difference to the lives of the city’s children.

‘We are working closely with Leicester City Council to ensure a smooth handover of services and are supporting our staff through the transfer process. Our absolute priority is that the needs of the children and families who use the centres continue to be met.’

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