Green Councillor and group spokesperson on children and young people, Alex Phillips, spoke out today against the Labour-run Council’s plans to close at least five children’s centres in response to government cuts. The plans, released in full today, identify centres including Cornerstone and City View as likely to be cut in a significantly reduced service.
Children’s Centres provide a range of services in early years which are vital for supporting child development and developing parenting skills, as well as providing a wide range of social, emotional and mental support for children and families. They were granted a reprieve last year as Green Councillors voted to save centres from the axe, but they are once again under threat.
The proposals also suggest reducing the more expensive “Triple P” parenting programmes for supporting parents, despite evidence from the Department for education that such programs can directly save local authorities £40,341 per family by avoiding the need for costly crisis-based interventions .
Councillor Alex Phillips said:
“This has to be the most short-sighted cut being proposed by the Labour council so far. It will cost far more in the long run if these vital services are cut and families in desperate need of support are turned away. The report on these proposals notes they will have a huge disproportionate impact on low income families, and particularly on the BME community.
“We recognise that the council faces extremely challenging financial times because of the Conservative national government’s devastating austerity programme, but this requires a wider, strategic response to address the issue, not the arbitrary salami-slicing approach being carried out by this Labour Council. It makes absolutely no financial sense to cut services which will lead to higher costs in a few years time.
“The proposals here are based on meeting the needs of the most deprived areas in the city. Although these areas clearly require as much support as possible, we cannot ignore the pockets of deprivation that exist across the city, and close the services people there rely on. We must also consider families who may not be the most deprived, but are struggling to cope and depend on the invaluable support that children’s centres can provide.
“Labour are planning to consult on these issues, but have already taken certain options off the table. In my view that is not a genuine consultation, and misses an opportunity to work with local residents to identify creative opportunities to keep all our children’s centres open. The proposals show an administration struggling to cope – there’s no plan here.”