Spending on Sure Start has halved in eight years

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New figures show investment in Sure Start has continued to decline with local authority spending on centres falling by £763 million since 2010.

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Spending on Sure Start children's centres has fallen by £763m since 2010

New National Audit Office (NAO) figures on the Financial Sustainability of Local Authorities   show that spending on Sure Start has almost halved (-49.6 per cent), with spending falling by £763m between 2010-2017.

During the same period, central government funding of local authorities fell by around 50 per cent, according to the NAO's report.

The latest figures represent a further decline in spending on those provided by the Department in Education last year, which showed local authorities in England spent £658 million less in 2015-16 than they did in 2010-11 on Sure Start and early years.

Data released last year by the Department for Education revealed that more than 370 children's centres have closed since 2010.

Asked about cuts to Sure Start centres and parental inclusion programmes this morning by the Education Select Committee, the education secretary Damian Hinds replied, ‘Different local authorities work in different ways. There are still plenty of bricks and mortar. There are other ways to reach families. We have the Innovation Fund working with children’s services.

‘The Government is spending more than any previous Government has on childcare and early years, an extra billion pounds.’

Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said, 'Despite promising to support hard-working families, the Tories have slashed funding for the services that support our most vulnerable children.

'Parents and children are now paying the price for the Government’s cuts and neglect of early education services like Sure Start.

'The Government should have used the Spring Statement last week to tackle the crisis they have created but yet again they failed to do so. 

'The next Labour Government will invest in Sure Start, building on the success of the last Labour Government by protecting a service that transformed the lives of a generation of children and families.'

A Department for Education spokesperson said, ‘Councils will receive more than £200 billion for local services, including children and young people services, up to 2019-20, with over £9bn being spent on children and young people services in 2016-17.

‘We believe it is up to local councils to decide how to organise and commission services in their areas. They are best placed to understand local needs and how best to meet them, whether using children’s centre buildings, family hubs or delivering services through another model.’

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