LABOUR accused the government yesterday of slamming the door on vulnerable children after figures revealed a staggering 156 Sure Start centres closed last year.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, herself “a former Sure Start mum,” said the closures meant “shutting the door in the faces of children who need help the most.”
She slammed the cuts as a “wasted opportunity for too many children.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said the closures were “deeply concerning” as official statistics showed that nearly twice as many Sure Start centres had shut in 2015 than in 2014.
The Sure Start programme was introduced by the Labour government in 1998 to reach children in deprived areas — improving access to childcare, early education, health and family support.
But funding cuts have seen Sure Start centre closures increase every year since 2010, with the latest report from the Department for Education revealing that more centres had been shut in 2015 than originally admitted.
Education Minister Caroline Dinenage told Mr Jarvis that it was the responsibility of local authorities “to ensure there are sufficient centres to meet local need.”
However Mr Jarvis demanded that the minister “come to Parliament to explain why this has happened.”
He said Sure Start centres were “a proven success” and reminded MPs that child poverty was set to rise by 50 per cent over this Parliament.
“We will all pay for this failure in years to come,” he warned.
A Department for Education spokesman said the government were investing record amounts in childcare with spending set to increase by more than £6 billion 2019-2020.