Calling on Government to protect Children’s Centres from cuts
I visited the Knavesmire Children’s Centre today, which opened in 2010 and is one of nine children’s centres in York. Children’s centres offer childcare, parenting skills, health and family support services. Childminders also meet regularly at the Centre to share working practices and provide support and advice to each other.
Despite facing huge cuts to their budget, City of York Council is trying to retain all nine York children’s centres. Many other councils have been forced to close some of their centres.
Children’s centres were introduced by the Labour Government as part of the Sure Start Scheme as one of the measures designed to help reduce child poverty and to provide children with the best possible start in life. I was the Minister who introduced Labour’s policy to reduce child poverty, and we cut the number of children living in poverty by half a million.
I was shocked to see in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Report published this week that the number of children in poverty has already started to rise again. The coalition government’s tax and benefits policies are likely to increase the number of children living in absolute poverty by 800,000 by the next general election in 2015. This week, the Institute of Fiscal Studies forecast that by 2013 a further 600,000 children will be pushed into poverty.
All children deserve a decent start in life. It is hard for councils to maintain their children’s centres when the Government is cutting the funding. Children should not bear the brunt of the government’s cuts and I will be pressing Ministers to think again.