Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] — Sure Start Children’s Centres

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:47 pm on 27th April 2011.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Election Co-ordinator) 12:47 pm, 27th April 2011

I am glad that my hon. Friend raises that important point. As she says, the budget for Sure Start in Hull has been cut by 50% from £9 million to £4.5 million. During a previous Opposition day debate on the education maintenance allowance, the Secretary of State stood at the Dispatch Box and advocated that people should vote Liberal Democrat, particularly in Hull, pointing to some excellent provision that was available. I wonder whether we will hear that again or whether he will revise that advice to the electorate in advance of next Thursday. A 50% cut—can that be what the Prime Minister had in mind when he said he would strengthen Sure Start? This is the decimation of services on the ground.

Let us talk about some more Tory authorities before we get on to the Liberal Democrats. Tory-controlled Barnet is removing funding from eight of its 21 children’s centres, making £6.4 million of savings. Tory-controlled Bromley is closing 13 of its 16 centres. How can there be a service for the whole borough when just three centres are left? Are Ministers really saying that every parent in Bromley can access those centres and their services? I doubt that very much.

In Hampshire, 28 of the 81 children centres are set for closure. However, we should not worry because help is at hand. Chris Huhne has signed a petition against the changes. Thank God for that!