Government losing control of Children's Centres, says Rotherham MP
As the consultation is well under way on the future of Rotherham's children's centres, local MP Sarah Champion continues her campaign to fight for their survival. Submitting a series of Written Parliamentary Questions, Sarah asked for figures on the number of Sure Starts closures, and how many centres are currently operating as a charity or co-operative, or are run by private sector companies. She also enquired how the impact and risk were assessed in reducing the Early Intervention Grant that councils receive.
The response received from Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, demonstrated a concerning loss of control on behalf of the government. It also showed that the Department for Education does not record the number of children's centres that have moved outside of local authority control to a charity or co-operative. Likewise, no information is held on the number of children's centres currently run by private sector companies.
When asked about the impact of the cuts and how the risk was assessed, the Minister replied that there was no single document covering this a worrying sign that the risk of this drastic move to reduce early years services may not have been assessed by the government at all.
Sarah Champion MP said: I can't believe that the Minister couldn't even provide me with simple figures and crucial information around these imperative services.
How can they oversee whether Children's Centres are being well run or not if they don't even know who is running them?
The responses also highlighted the fact that the Early Intervention Grant isn't ring fenced, which is where the funding for children's centres comes from. That the government haven't chosen to protect this vital grant is really shocking.
Taking away these centres is counter-productive and will lead to significant cost pressures in the longer term. The government must put a stop to these cuts and protect our children and their families who need the vital support these centres offer. I will continue to fight the government to get to the bottom of this.