The futures of many of the region’s Sure Start Children’s Centres are in the balance at this General Election. Over 1,000 Sure Start centres across the UK could go under in the next four years, thanks to the Tories’ extreme plans to cut spending in the next Parliament.
Labour warns today that this would be disastrous for thousands of families up and down the country.
In the North East, there are 51 fewer Children’s Centres open when compared to 2010.
Sure Start closures will hit working families already struggling under David Cameron’s government. His cuts have left many Sure Start centres closed or mothballed while childcare costs have gone up six times faster than wages and available childcare places have fallen by 40,000.
Sharon Hodgson, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Minister and candidate for Washington & Sunderland West said:
“Before the last election the Tories told us all we had nothing to fear about the future of Sure Start however what we’ve seen is very different. Despite the efforts of our Labour Councils, who have done their best to protect Children’s Centres, there are now 51 fewer operating in the North East.
“With the government planning further and deeper cuts, I really do fear that local councils will come under further huge financial pressures threatening Sure Start even further.”
“Labour will revive Sure Start and extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds, giving local authorities an obligation to provide childcare at Sure Start centres. Only Labour will secure a future for Sure Start.”
Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“The Tories pose a real threat to Sure Start – a service relied on by thousands of working families.
“Before the last election, David Cameron said he would protect Sure Start but since then there are hundreds fewer centres. If they get in again they’ll do the same again. Their extreme plans mean over 1,000 of the remaining centres face the axe.
“Working families can’t afford five more years of this failing Tory plan. We need Labour’s better plan, which will revive Sure Start, provide more childcare places and extend free childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds.”