Children’s centres threatened by county council cuts

“One of the few policies from the last Labour Government that received universal praise was the setting up and funding of Children’s Centres” says Romsey’s County Councillor, Mark Cooper. “Sure Start, provided mainly in the Children’s Centres, is designed to give all children, whatever their background or financial circumstances, an equal start in life”.
There are 81 Children’s Centres in Hampshire and they are funded in full through the ‘Sure Start Early Years Childcare Grant’ totalling £16.9 million in 2010/2011. The Coalition Government has retained the £16.9 million grant for the coming financial year.
“Unfortunately, the cash is not ring-fenced” says Cllr Cooper. “The County Council is proposing to divert some of the Sure Start grant away from the very young and sometimes vulnerable children who benefit from the work of Children’s Centres to other parts of the education budget. The County’s plan is to cut the number of centres from 81 down to 53, a 35% reduction, and stripping £6 million out of the Sure Start budget. The £6 million will then be used elsewhere in Hampshire’s education system”.
The consultation on these changes will run until 14th March. “I urge all of those who are concerned about the welfare of young children to look at the Consultation Document on Hampshire County Council’s website and to contact the Save Our Children’s Centres campaign on [email protected]“.
The Hampshire Cabinet  member who is solely responsible for taking the decision on the future of Hampshire’s Children’s Centres is Cllr Roy Perry.

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