Labour highlights 40 per cent cut in children's centres spending

By Derren Hayes

| 11 December 2017

Council spending on children's centres and early years support has fallen by nearly £700m since 2010, analysis of government figures shows.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner highlighted the research findings

In-depth evaluation of local authority section 251 "outturn" figures published by the Department for Education in late November shows that spending on Sure Start children's centres and early years services fell £670m between 2010/11 and 2015/16. 

The figures have been seized upon by the Labour Party as further evidence of the depth of government cuts to support for vulnerable families.

In 2010/11, councils spent £1.503bn on children's centres and early years, but by 2015/16 this had fallen to £844m, a reduction of 44 per cent. This saw the share of children's services budget spend on children's centres and early years drop from 15 to nine per cent in total.

The analysis, by consultants Aldaba, also reveals that spending on a host of other early help services has fallen from £2.5bn to £1.6bn over the same timescale, a drop of £900m. This includes support services for care leavers, child asylum seekers, young people and struggling families. 

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who highlighted the figures, said: "These figures, buried in a government data dump, show that the Tories have slashed support for the children who need it the most. It is another sign that this government is failing to support families struggling to get by, as well as the most vulnerable children in our society.

"We now have record numbers of children going into care or subject to child protection plans but instead of reversing these cuts, the Chancellor went ahead with another tax giveaway to the banks and clawed back a £750m under-spend on tax-free childcare."

Rayner added that if elected Labour would invest £500m in Sure Start children's centres.

Over the same period, council spending on children in need and looked-after children rose by £400m and £150m respectively according to the analysis.

Earlier this year, Labour released Freedom of Information data that showed the number of children's centres had fallen from 3,632 in June 2010 to 2,390 in April 2017.

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