Government ‘hid’ report revealing full impact of cuts to Sure Start children’s centres

160113SureStartThe UK’s Conservative Government loves to hide things, despite an early claim that it would be the “most transparent government ever” (along with that other broken promise, to be the “greenest”).

Last year, only a petition from a quarter of a million people and an Early Day Motion signed by 93 MPs, in support of my Freedom of Information request, secured the release of information on the number of sickness benefit claimants who have died since 2011. Even then, the information was incomplete.

Before that, the Tories famously banned publication of an impact assessment report on their appalling plan to allow private firms to provide NHS services, in fear that the dire predictions it undoubtedly contained would bring the whole plan crashing to a halt. What a shame that didn’t happen.

In comparison, hiding a report among a glut of others released just before Christmas may seem positively outspoken.

But the impact on children is, as the Independent states, damning.

In the light of other criticisms of the Conservatives that have been publicised since Christmas – in only the last three days we’ve had Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to negotiate a reasonable deal with junior doctors, the plan to turf people on social housing out into the streets, use of EVEL to allow landlords to rent out houses that are unfit for habitation, the ongoing scandal of benefit-related deaths, using Universal Credit as a means of cutting in-work benefits, selling our national assets to foreign businesses and nationalised industries, lying to other countries about climate change, the ‘Big Brother’ surveillance Bill, the scandal of ‘revolving door’ jobs for ex-ministers in the industries they previously regulated (light-touch, obviously), the all-out attack on Parliamentary democracy and the funding of other political parties, the ineptitude over the recent floods, the great scandal over women’s pensions – one has to wonder:

Whatever possessed anybody in the UK electorate to vote for them?

A damning report which revealed the full extent of the harm done by funding cuts to children’s centres was among more than 400 statements, documents and reports quietly released by the Government just before Christmas.

A six-year study by Oxford University researchers highlighted how children’s centres – known as Sure Start – were making a difference in some of the poorest areas of the country, but have suffered acutely from cuts or restructuring.

The final report was agreed in August, but the Department for Education (DfE), which commissioned it, held back publication for months before quietly slipping it out on 17 December, along with hundreds of other statements, documents and reports.

The report identified various benefits for mothers and families who regularly attended children’s centres in poorer areas: improved mental health for mothers, better relations between parents and children, a less chaotic home life and enhanced home learning environments. In all cases, the impact was greater in centres with improved funding than in those with budget cuts.

Parents who did not engage with children’s centres showed the fewest positive outcomes.

The shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell, said: “We’ve had nothing but broken promises from this Government on Sure Start. There are now 763 fewer centres since 2010 and services are withering on the vine in many areas, so it’s no wonder that ministers hid this report by releasing it with so many others just before Christmas.”

Source: Government ‘hid’ report revealing full impact of cuts to Sure Start children’s centres | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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5 thoughts on “Government ‘hid’ report revealing full impact of cuts to Sure Start children’s centres

  1. NMac

    These Tory cretins have virtually declared war upon the vast majority of people in Britain. They are driven by greed, selfishness and blind hatred.

  2. Dez

    Lies, lies and more lies……this Government must take the honours for the least transparent and most devious ever….

  3. amnesiaclinic

    Apparently Cameron made an election promise not to cut the Sure Start Centres.

    It is very worrying and disturbing that all the cuts and austerity you have mentioned all affect children even more than adults because of their developing bodies, brains and emotions.

    We are marching back to the 30’s in double quick time. I am reading Helen Forrester’s ‘Twopence to Cross the Mersey’ and it painful to see how the poverty affected her family and the children in the slums of Liverpool and how with the poor (EVIL) housing act and slow dismemberment of social housing and the NHS mean we are going back to that sordid place.

  4. fathomie

    Are there no depths to which this govt can sink? Silly question… This week Cameron pledged (for all a pledge is worth) that he would set out money for parenting courses, as ‘poor parenting is one of the biggest issues in our society’. Yes he was, again, copying Blair lock, stock and barrel, but hey, the man has no spine, ideas or character of his own.

    But, this is one of the reasons for Surestart! The surestart idea, is that parents and children learn together to build up relationships by shared learning and understanding. There were courses for parents with real skill’s shortages, and the whole exercise is one of togetherness. Ofsted, headteachers, teachers all agree that parents and children from poor backgrounds need all the help they can get, so why is our beloved leader allowing surestarts funding to be slashed and the very help they need being choked off?

    I can suggest a few things… One, the usual, dogma. The Tories don’t like the public sector providing anything, so state schools providing help is a no, no. Two, and even more important to the Tories, there’s money to be made. It’s highly unlikely, going on the current regimes track record that LA’s, schools or social services will be allowed to run these courses. No, some Private Company, no doubt run by someone close to Cameron and Osbourne, will be the lucky recipient of tax payers millions, with more to be made through the usual fiddles so many of these companies get involved in.

    It’s puke inducing…

    Mike, why not start a 38degrees campaign on this issue?

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