Lucy Rigby, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln has blasted the Conservative-led government for ‘failing’ children in the county.
New analysis, brought to light by Shadow Minister for Children and Childcare Lucy Powell, shows how the Tories have broken their promise to protect the network of Sure Start children’s centres. A 45.9% reduction in the Early Intervention Grant to from central government to councils across the East Midlands has led to closures of the valued service in communities across Lincolnshire. Twenty three of the Sure Start centres run by Lincolnshire County Council have closed since 2010, taking the authority’s total number of centres down from 48 to 25.
The new data also reveals that there are 628 fewer Sure Start centres across the UK now than in April 2010 – an average of three closing every week.Many of those that remain have been downgraded and face an uncertain future under the Tories. One in ten Sure Start centres provides fewer services, one in six has seen a reduction in hours, and one in five has fewer staff than in 2010.
The Sure Start initiate was launched in 1998 with the aim of "giving children the best possible start in life" through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.
Commenting on Ms Powell’s findings, Lucy Rigby said: "The Tories promised to protect Sure Start but have delivered only failure and it’s children and families in Lincolnshire who are paying the price. There are 628 fewer centres than there were in 2010, 23 of those closures have fallen in the Lincolnshire area. Remaining Sure Starts, relied on by parents, are under pressure and facing an uncertain future.
"Only Labour is committed to renewing and reinvigorating Sure Start. We will reform the way local services work together to shift from sticking-plaster services to radical early help to provide good quality support to all families that need it. Labour will also provide 25 hours of free childcare for working parents to help deal with the cost-of-living crisis.
“At the next election the choice is clear. The threat of five more years of a Tory Party which has let Sure Start wither on the vine, or a Labour future where Sure Start is protected and families are put first.”