Over 80% of Sure Start centres in Wirral lost since 2010: Margaret Greenwood MP highlights value of early years education and support

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05 Apr 2017
Margaret Greenwood MP has strongly criticised the government in the wake of the publication of new figures showing that over 80% of Sure Start centres in Wirral have been lost since 2010.

13 of the 16 Sure Start centres in Wirral have been lost since 2010. In England as a whole, there are now over 1,240 fewer designated Sure Start children’s centres than in 2010 – a fall of around 34 per cent. Over 230 have been lost in the last year alone.

The last Labour government introduced Sure Start centres in disadvantaged areas from 1998 onwards to support families through integrating

• advice and guidance on parenting

• childcare

• information on health and nutrition

• specialist services such as speech and language therapy as well as

• links with Jobcentre Plus to support parents in finding work through the New Deal employment programme.

Support was targeted in particular at single parents.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“Sure Start centres were a key part of the last Labour government’s strategy to tackle child poverty. They offered support with parenting and specialist health services to families and aimed to give children the very best possible start in life.

“The centres were linked to JobCentre Plus as well to provide employment support for parents. As a result, between 1997 and 2010 the employment rate for single parents increased from 44% to 57%.

“As Shadow Minister for Employment and Inequalities, I recently launched Labour’s National Conversation about Child Poverty and Life Chances at an event in Woodchurch.

"I know from conversations about child poverty with early years specialists in Wirral how highly they value the work of Sure Start centres.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently warned that the tax and benefit changes planned by the government for this Parliament risk adding another 1 million children to the 4 million children already growing up in poverty over the next five years.

“Sure Start centres were part of an attempt to break the cycle of poverty in families.

"Early years education and support makes a vital difference to children’s life chances.

“The government should give it the priority it deserves and fund it properly.”

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