Tory councillors worried about cuts to children's centres

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Nearly three-quarters of Conservative councillors are concerned about Government funding cuts to children’s centres, a new poll has revealed.

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The poll by Action for Children revealed Tory councillors' concerns about the future of children's centres

Of the 508 Conservative councillors polled by charity Action for Children, 72 per cent said long-term funding for children’s services is a major concern for their council.

Over half (53 per cent) agreed that central Government cuts have made it harder for their council to meet their legal responsibilities for children and young people.

One Conservative lead member, whose local authority has had to scrap some family support services because of reduced funding, said the impact of further cuts would be ‘significant’, adding that currently those who are the ‘most vulnerable’ are a high priority.

Findings from the poll also revealed that more than a third (38 per cent) of respondents believe that there is a ‘lack of clear direction and funding’ from central Government for children’s centres, family hubs, and family support.

Chief executive of Action for Children, Sir Tony Hawkhead, said, ‘Our findings show the growing fear that the Government is failing in its pledge to give all children the best start in life.

‘Around a third of children in England – nearly 200,000 – fell behind by age five last year and with one children’s centre closing every week, we’re deeply concerned struggling families are being abandoned.

‘Early years services are one of the key lifelines for families living in poor housing, in financial trouble, with mental health issues and those whose own childhood experiences affect their parenting. These lifeline services are being hollowed out, fragmented and cut, and children are bearing the brunt.

‘The Government needs a bold vision that will give direction and provide local authorities with adequate funding to make sure all our children get the best start in life.’

Government figures released in February showed that more than 370 children's centres have closed since 2010.

Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill said, 'We are determined to ensure children get the best start in life. Councils will receive more than £200 billion for local services up to 2020. They increased spending on children and young people’s services to over £9 billion in 2015-16.

'Our £200 million Innovation Programme is helping some councils develop new and better ways of delivering these services – this includes projects targeting children who have been referred and assessed multiple times without receiving support. As well as this, we have also announcing up to £20m to support further improvement in children’s social care services.'

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